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Supreme Court sides with Florida in GA-FL water dispute

The Supreme Court gave Florida a victory in the long war with Georgia over water rights on Wednesday.

A ruling of a court-appointed special master was “too strict” in resolving that a remedy using the court’s power would boost water flow into the Apalachicola River and help the region’s struggling oyster industry.

The Court’s 5-4 decision sends the case, known officially as Florida v. Georgia, back to Special Master Ralph Lancaster Jr., who ruled in favor of Georgia in a decision issued last year in which Florida later appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In that decision, the special master found that Florida had sustained harm because of the decreased water flow in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin. However, the special master did not prove that Georgia’s water consumption would provide the relief it sought. This was mainly due to the  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency in charge of federal water projects, not being part of the lawsuit.

The justices, in a 5-4 decision, said Florida provided a “sufficient showing” to the special master and the high court that if Georgia reduced water consumption, it would provide a benefit to the Apalachicola Bay.

Justice Thomas, one of the dissenters, said the special master was correct to find that capping Georgia’s water use would not benefit Florida, a conclusion that favors Georgia under the “traditional balance-of-harms” standard.

Justices Breyer, Roberts Jr., Kennedy, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor sided with Florida. Justices Elena Kagan, Neil M. Gorsuch, Samuel A. Alito Jr., and Clarence Thomas dissented.

Picture credit – Typepad

 

 

Jeremy Spencer grew up in rural South Georgia and has served as a healthcare provider, high school science teacher, school administrator, and state education official. Jeremy is currently the market and content manager for All on Georgia-Camden and Glynn Counties. Jeremy’s focus is local news, statewide education issues, and statewide political commentary for the All on Georgia News Network. Jeremy has served as an education policy analyst for local legislators and state education leaders as well as a campaign strategist for local and statewide political campaigns. Jeremy holds degrees in science and education from the University of Georgia, Piedmont College, and Valdosta State University. Jeremy has lived in Camden County for over 17 years.

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