Second High Court Hearing For Florida-Georgia Water War
WASHINGTON: The Supreme Court tried Monday to inject some mystery into its second consideration of a long-running dispute between Georgia and Florida over water that flows from the Atlanta suburbs to the Gulf of Mexico.
Invoking Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle, the justices puzzled over Florida’s claims that blame for the decimation of the state’s oyster industry lies with Georgia farmers who use too much water from the Flint river.
A lot of things took a stab at the fishery… But you cant say that any one of those things is responsible for killing the fishery, Roberts said.
Justice Clarence Thomas gave the dispute between the two states, and their differing claims about how much water even is at issue, a title in the manner of Doyle’s tales about Holmes, “the case of the disappearing water.
Florida is seeking a court order forcing Georgia to limit its use of water from the Flint. When the justices first heard the dispute three years ago, Florida also was claiming that the Atlanta area’s consumption of water from the Chattahoochee river also played a big role in the reduced flows in Florida, but that claim has fallen out of the case, Gregory Garre, Florida’s lawyer, said Monday in arguments that were held via telephone because of the coronavirus pandemic.
I guess I would say in closing its hard to imagine New England without lobsters or, say, the Chesapeake without crabs, but, in effect, thats a future that Apalachicola now faces when it comes to its oysters and other species, Garre said.
Craig Primis, representing Georgia, urged the justices to end the case in his state’s favor because Florida had not conclusively proved that its northern neighbor is to blame for the problems on the Apalachicola.
Florida’s lawsuit against Georgia was filed directly in the Supreme Court, which is mainly an appellate court but hears disputes between states. The court appointed a special master to evaluate the case, and he initially recommended that Georgia should prevail.