ATLANTA – “I recommend that the Court deny Florida’s request for relief.” With that recommendation to the U. S. Supreme Court, Special Master Ralph Lancaster has brought to a close the latest episode in the long-running water wars between Florida and Georgia.
The Special Master’s report stated that: “Florida has not proven by clear and convincing evidence that any additional streamflow in the Flint River resulting from a decree imposing a consumptive cap on Georgia’s water use would be released from Jim Woodruff Dam into the River at a time that would provide a material benefit to Florida.”
The recommendation from Lancaster was made in response to Florida’s challenge in 2013. Florida claimed that the metro Atlanta region, and southwest Georgia farmers’ water use, was detrimental to Florida’s oyster industry, downstream communities, and endangered species. The Special Master rejected that claim.
The report was an absolute win for Georgia. Furthermore, it should now silence Georgia’s critics who claimed poor water resource management by our State. The ruling is also a great win for Georgia agriculture, Apalachicola, Chattahoochee, and Flint River Basin (ACF) communities, in addition to those organizations and agencies responsible for the stewardship of the State’s water resources.
This challenge has been time consuming and expensive for the State. However, that cost was always an investment in ACF-based industries and communities dependent on the water resources of the ACF Basin, and in the underlying groundwater resources.
Governor Deal’s commitment to aggressively fight this challenge has been fully vindicated. The Chamber applauds his unwavering support for the people, communities, and industries, dependent on the ACF Basin’s water resources.
The shadow of this ongoing legal battle challenge has now been lifted. Across the State, we will now continue our stewardship and management of water resources in a sustainable manner to support the State’s economy, to protect public health and natural systems, and to enhance the quality of life for all citizens.
We now await the final decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to accept the Special Master’s report, thereby bringing this challenge to an end.