As of mid-November, the U.S. Supreme Court had not set a date for oral arguments in the Florida v. Georgia lawsuit over water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin.
Florida filed the suit in 2013 after the collapse of oyster fisheries during the 2012 drought that lowered water levels on three rivers that flow from north Georgia to the Florida Panhandle. Stakeholders in the Atlanta metropolitan area and around Lake Lanier initially feared Florida would seek to drain more water from Lanier, the largest reservoir on the rivers.
However, Florida later targeted Georgia agriculture along the Flint River, which uses more water than all other entities combined.
Two special masters have recommended justices deny Florida’s claims that Georgia hoards more than its share of water and causes economic and environmental harm downstream. The court in 2018 remanded the case for further consideration after it ruled that the first special master required too strict a standard for Florida to prove its case. Last December, the second special master also recommended the court to drop the case, stating that Georgia’s cost of cutting water use would be greater than the potential benefits to Florida.
In October, the court put the water battle on its oral argument calendar for this term, which extends through April 2021.
However, the date for argument had not been announced by Lakeside’s deadline. The case will be heard by a different court than the one that sat for oral arguments in 2018.
Two of those who voted in the majority are no longer on the court. Justice Anthony Kennedy retired and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. Justices Brett Cavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett will hear the case for the first time.