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Oct. 31 trial date set in Georgia-Florida water wars case

GEORGIA -- A trial is set to begin Oct. 31 over allegations that Georgia residents are drinking up too much water before the resource reaches Florida.

An order filed Monday by Ralph I. Lancaster, a Maine lawyer appointed by the Supreme Court to oversee the case, sets out details and a schedule leading up to the trial, which would take place in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

The order doesn’t say anything about an expected length of the trial, but Florida said in an earlier filing it projects the trial could last at least 4-5 weeks.

However, the case won’t reach that stage if the states settle out of court. Florida and Georgia have said they’re actively engaged in mediation efforts.

The trial would mark the latest legal battle in a decadeslong tri-state war over water sharing in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, which includes Lake Lanier.

In the latest case, Florida is accusing Georgia of “overconsumption” of water in the basin, leading to economic troubles for Florida’s oyster industry in the Gulf of Mexico.

Georgia has denied the allegations.