‘Water Wars’ lawsuit between Georgia, Florida to be heard before U.S. Supreme Court

Published 5:49 pm Friday, November 7, 2014

A lawsuit filed by Florida over the water flow from the agriculture-heavy state of Georgia last year will be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last year, Florida asked Georgia in court to allow more water to flow into the Apalachicola Bay, where the oyster industry has been steadily plummeting. Georgia has argued the population decline has reasons other than a lack of fresh water.

According to a press release from growinggeorgia.com, Florida, Georgia and Alabama have fought over the flow of water from Atlanta for the past 24 years. However, Alabama is not directly involved in this lawsuit.

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“This is huge news and a major victory for Florida, and marks the first of many important victories for families and businesses in Apalachicola,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said in an official statement. “We took bold action last year to protect the waters of Apalachicola from Georgia’s unchecked use of these critical resources. For 20 years, Florida has tried to work with Georgia, and families have continued to see their fisheries suffer from the lack of water. The Supreme Court takes up so few cases, and their willingness to hear Florida’s demonstrates the merits of our case before the Court. We are fighting for the future of this region, and we won’t quit until these resources are restored.”

Local farmers, especially ones in Southwest Georgia, have been at the forefront of the argument for water staying in Georgia. A crucial part of the agriculture industry, water staying in state is a key to many farmers’ livelihoods.

“I’ve been involved in water issues since 1978 in Georgia,” Local farmer Jerry Long said. “This concerns us quite a bit. Water is our most precious commodity we have.”

This year has been a particularly dry year for agriculture in terms of rain. Long said having proper irrigation means the difference for whether a farmer will have a crop or not.

Peanut farmer Alan Davis said he wasn’t convinced farmers’ irrigation was the problem behind water flow to Apalachicola.

“I understand that they do have problems below us—it’s a highly debatable issue—but I’m not convinced that the agriculture part is the problem as far as irrigation water,” Davis said.

Florida Congressman Steve Southerland (R) said he was pleased the Supreme Court would consider a resolution to the crisis.

“As Floridians, we have an obligation to continue fighting for the people, jobs, and treasured heritage of Apalachicola Bay,” he said.

No date has been set for the Supreme Court to hear the case.