Court refuses Georgia’s Apalachicola River appeal

By Bruce Ritchie

Gov. Charlie Crist said he’s joining with Florida residents and businesses today in applauding a U.S. Supreme Court decision not to hear an appeal by Georgia dealing with Apalachicola River Flow.

Alabama, Florida and Georgia have been in court since 1990 battling over water from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system. Alabama and Georgia want water for cities and industry while Florida wants water to protect fish in the Apalachicola River and the seafood industry around Apalachicola Bay.

The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to hear an appeal of a district court ruling that said that a water deal struck between the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2003 for using water from Lake Lanier was illegal. Alabama and Florida had sued to block the deal.

The Supreme Court’s action “will allow Florida to continue our efforts to help protect the adequate flow of freshwater in the Apalachicola River,” Crist said in a statement issued by his press office.

Crist also said the decision should provide the framework needed for resolution of the dispute. The governors met in 2008 but were unable to resolve their differences.

“I look forward to working with Governors Perdue and Riley in continuing our work to address the water issues facing our states,” Crist said.

Perdue said in a written statement that he was disappointed that the court did not review the “flawed” District of Columbia Circuit Court ruling but added that the decision simply maintains the status quo at Lake Lanier, the huge federal reservoir that provides the Atlanta area with drinking water.

“We felt strongly the Supreme Court review of this case could have resolved a major piece of our ongoing water negotiations,” Perdue said. He added that Georgia “now will move forward with continuing to work with our neighbors and other stakeholders to reach consensus on a plan that fairly shares our limited resources and adequately protects the headwaters of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin.”