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SCOTUS rules in favor of Georgia in ‘Water Wars’

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    ATLANTA (WGCL) — The state of Florida had alleged in 2013 that Georgia’s consumption of water resources from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin had negatively impacted Florida’s river ecosystem and collapsed its oyster industry.

The court ruled Thursday that Florida had engaged in unprecedented levels of oyster harvesting in the years preceding the collapse, finding that Georgia’s use of ACF resources had little to no impact.

Governor Kemp and Attorney General Carr issued the following statements:

“The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision is a resounding victory for Georgia and a vindication of years-long effort by multiple governors and attorneys general here in the Peach State to protect our citizens’ water rights,” said Governor Kemp. “Our state will continue to wisely manage water resources and prioritize conservation, while also protecting Georgia’s economy and access to water.”

“Today the Supreme Court of the United States, in a unanimous decision, affirmed what we have long known to be true: Georgia’s water use has been fair and reasonable,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “We will continue to be good stewards of our water resources, and we are proud to have obtained a positive resolution to this years-long dispute on behalf of all Georgians.”

In its decision handed down today, the Court held that Florida “failed to carry its burden” to prove that Georgia’s consumption of water from the ACF Basin caused the collapse of Florida’s oyster fisheries or harm to its river ecosystem. To the contrary, “Florida’s own documents and witnesses reveal[ed] that Florida allowed unprecedented levels of oyster harvesting in the years before the collapse” and also “failed to adequately reshell its oyster bars.” Further, “the data and modeling of its own experts … show[ed] that Georgia’s consumption had little to no impact on the Bay’s oyster population.” The Court also found “a complete lack of evidence that any river species suffered serious injury” from Georgia’s consumption.”

The Court concluded: “In short, Florida has not met the exacting standard necessary to warrant the exercise of this Court’s extraordinary authority to control the conduct of a coequal sovereign. We emphasize that Georgia has an obligation to make reasonable use of Basin waters in order to help conserve that increasingly scarce resource. But in light of the record before us, we must overrule Florida’s exceptions to the Special Master’s Report and dismiss the case.”

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Article Topic Follows: National-World

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