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Another decade of ‘water wars’ not the answer

POSTED: October 13, 2013 8:00 a.m.
 

Earlier this month the AFC Stakeholders, a group that has been working to resolve water use issues in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin, implored Florida Gov. Rick Scott not to continue pursuing litigation over water allocation issues between his state and Georgia.

We can only hope he is receptive to what they had to say.

In August, Scott announced he was heading back to court for another judicial opinion in the “water wars” over allocations that already is more than 20 years old. While there is no guarantee the U.S. Supreme Court would allow new litigation on an issue most thought was resolved with a decision by that body in 2012, if in fact Florida’s efforts at reopening a court challenge are successful it could easily mean another decade of political and legal wrangling.

That’s just insane.

The AFC Stakeholders group asked Scott to reconsider, noting that is has been working for four years on a water allocation plan that should be completed by June of 2014.

Florida officials continue to pursue the water fight in an attempt to preserve the oyster business of Apalachicola Bay. While most of the initial legal skirmishes dealt with the Chattahoochee River, Lake Lanier and water consumption in the Atlanta area, the newest initiative by the Sunshine State broadens the challenge to include other water uses in south Georgia and the Flint River Basin.

It would be nice to think our neighboring governor would listen to reason, accept his previous losses in the courts and work for ongoing practical solutions that avoid decades of legal maneuvering, but we suspect his motivation is as much political as it is concern for oyster farming, and politics and reason don’t frequently coincide.

If Scott is successful in opening a new round of litigation, there is no telling what the impact might be on Lake Lanier, the primary source of drinking water for metro Atlanta. Previous skirmishes in the water wars between Georgia, Florida and Alabama have already shown us the potential negative impact of uncertainty over the future of water availability.

Florida has said that Georgia has “overconsumed” water from the river basin that feeds Apalachicola Bay. If this attempt at new litigation persists, we may need to respond in kind with litigation of our own to claim that Florida has “overconsumed” tourist traffic flowing through Georgia, and implement change with some barricades on I-75 at the state line.

 

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