The stage appears set for water wars to drag into a fourth decade.
The U.S. Supreme Court is giving Georgia and Florida 45 days to file briefs responding to a Dec. 11 report issued by a special master who ruled against Florida.
The court’s notice is indicated on a docket listing proceedings and orders in the case dating to September 2013.
In the latest litigation, Florida has claimed it has suffered economic and ecological harm from Georgia’s “overconsumption of water” in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, which straddles Georgia, Florida and Alabama and has Lake Lanier as its headwaters.
Florida is asking the court to freeze Georgia's water usage at current levels in the ACF to 2050 and approve even tighter controls during droughts.
In his 81-page ruling, U.S. Circuit Judge Paul J. Kelly Jr. recommended that the Supreme Court not grant Florida’s request for an equitable apportioning of waters in the ACF.
“The evidence has shown that Georgia’s water use is reasonable, and the evidence has not shown that the benefits of apportionment would substantially outweigh the potential harms,” Kelly said.
The Supreme Court will decide whether to accept Kelly’s recommendation.
The battle with Florida is the latest chapter in water litigation also involving Alabama that dates to 1990.