Special master rules for Georgia in water wars case

[private]The special master presiding over a federal water lawsuit involving Georgia and Florida has ruled in Georgia’s favor

“I conclude that Florida has not proven by clear and convincing evidence that its injury can be redressed by an order equitably apportioning the waters of the [Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint] Basin,” said special master Ralph Lancaster in a report released Tuesday.

Florida filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia contending that the state withdrew too much water from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers, thus endangering the oyster industry in Apalachicola Bay.

The two states argued their case before Lancaster last fall, with Georgia contending that a ruling in Florida’s favor would devastate Metro Atlanta development and the agriculture industry in southwest Georgia.

Lancaster said he had no authority to rule on the Chattahoochee River withdrawals because those are controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers.

“The Report recommends that the Court deny Florida’s request for relief because the Corps is not a party to this original jurisdiction proceeding,” Lancaster wrote.

“Because the Corps is not a party, no decree entered by this Court can mandate any change in the Corps’ operations in the Basin,” Lancaster said. “Without the ability to bind the Corps, I am not persuaded that the Court can assure Florida the relief it seeks.”

Florida is expected to appeal Lancaster’s finding to the Supreme Court, so the legal matter is far from resolved.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Ralph Lancaster , water wars