The U.S. Supreme Court in mid-September had not granted Florida another chance to stake its claims on water from the river system that fills Lake Lanier, serves metro Atlanta, and irrigates Georgia crops.
By Lakeside News deadline, the longstanding Florida v. Georgia lawsuit over water on the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river network was not listed for oral argument this year. The October 2020 calendar extends through April 2021. Justices planned to sit through another marathon water contest, Texas v. New Mexico, on Oct. 5.
Florida filed suit in October 2013, claiming Georgia consumed more than its share of water, causing the collapse of oyster fisheries in Apalachicola Bay. Subsequently, two court-appointed special masters recommended the court drop the case. In a 5-4 2018 decision, justices remanded the first special master’s report and later assigned the case to another, who in January this year also denied Florida’s claims.
Since then, both states have volleyed replies and sur-replies, met so far with no recorded response from justices. Florida attorneys have pled for court sympathy for Apalachicola’s oystering tradition, which they claim will be doomed without the court’s intervention. Georgia attorneys have pointed to evidence of Florida’s overharvest of oysters and the Peach State’s larger economy that quenches its thirst from the ACF.
Metro Atlanta water users and stakeholders around Lake Lanier initially feared Florida’s lawsuit would target the ACF’s largest reservoir; however, lawyers focused on south Georgia farmers on the Flint River. Georgia agriculture saps more water from the ACF than all other entities combined.