Judge rules against Florida AND Georgia in water case

A federal judge has issued yet another ruling against Georgia in a tri-state water dispute but in doing so also has ruled against Florida, according to news reports.

Alabama, Florida and Georgia have been fighting in federal court over water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system since 1990. The issue pits growth in Alabama and Georgia against Florida’s desire to protect endangered species in the Apalachicola River and the seafood industry in Apalachicola Bay.

In an order signed Wednesday, Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson ruled against claims raised by Florida, which said not enough water was being provided to protect the Gulf sturgeon, the fat threeridge mussel and the purple bankclimber mussel. Magnuson said he found no evidence the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s biological opinion for water flow was incorrect, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The judge also ruled that Georgia did not have legal standing to challenge a plan to ensure there is enough water to protect those endangered species, according to the newspaper.

Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Amy Graham said the initial response from Florida was disappointment. “We are considering all options for moving forward,” she said.

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said the ruling was another victory for his state against Georgia and its protection of water in Lake Lanier, the huge federal reservoir north of Atlanta.

“Alabama has argued for years that the Corps had failed to follow the law with its operational plan for Lake Lanier, and the Court has now vindicated Alabama’s position,” Riley said in a statement. “Although the court did not order any immediate relief, the ruling puts the Corps and Georgia on notice that their refusal to follow the law at Lake Lanier will not be tolerated any longer.”

(Story courtesy of the Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting brucebritchie@gmail.com.)