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Gearing up for water wars one more time

POSTED: August 18, 2013 8:00 a.m.
 

We have but two words to offer Florida Gov. Rick Scott: “Please don’t.”

In the middle of the rainiest summer we’ve had in years, Scott said last week he plans to sue Georgia in the U. S. Supreme Court in an effort to gain access to more water for the Apalachicola River. If he does, litigation over water rights that already has traversed some 20 years of legal finagling would start up again.

As far as legal battles go, this one has been fought and won by Georgia. It’s time to move on to negotiating the terms of life after the courtroom.

In 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Georgia had the right to use Lake Lanier as a source of drinking water, overturning an earlier federal court decision. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from Florida and Alabama in the case, which should have finally put an end to the issue.

But maybe not.

Scott will be running for re-election next year, and stirring up the constituents for another wet round of water wars is likely a good way to garner votes. We all know that anything is possible when it comes to those with political ambitions.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal was quick to criticize his Florida counterpart for the threat made last week.

“More than a year ago, I offered a framework for a comprehensive agreement. Florida never responded,” Deal said. “It’s absurd to waste taxpayers’ money and prolong this process with a court battle when I’ve proposed a workable solution.”

Absurd though it may be, it may not matter if it means votes for the incumbent in the Sunshine state. And since the harsh reality is that, given the way the courts work and the long, sordid history of this particular issue, Scott may complete another term and be long gone from the Florida governor’s office before such a lawsuit is resolved.

The wrangling over water rights between Georgia, Florida and Alabama offers a classic example of why so many people are simply fed up with a government and court system that seems incapable of bringing resolution to complex issues.

Water. Immigration. Tax reform. Health care. Social security. The big ticket items seem to get plenty of lip service among the powers that be, but never confronted, addressed and resolved.

It’s enough to make you wonder how in the name of George Washington we were ever able to build a nation upon the three-legged stool of executive, legislative and judicial power.

In the aftermath of Scott’s liquid sabre rattling on Tuesday, Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama made comments that suggest he’s just spoiling to jump back into the watery fray, so we expect it won’t be long before any pretense at negotiations have again fallen by the way as the lawyers get rich and the common folk of all three states become even more fed up with those in leadership positions.

As Gov. Deal said, it is indeed absurd.

 

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