You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Water wars verdict could cost Georgia billions


Georgia’s economy could take an $18 billion hit if Florida prevails in the upcoming “water wars” trial, according to court documents filed Thursday.

Yet Florida, which is suing Georgia for hogging too much Chattahoochee and Flint river water, appears to be aiming its legal guns at the farmers in Southwest Georgia who use copious amounts of river and groundwater to grow cotton, peanuts and other crops.

And, despite months of confidential meetings between the two states’ governors and their attorneys, the trial appears set to begin Oct. 31 — Halloween — in Portland, Me.

Florida sued Georgia two years ago claiming the upriver state disproportionately hordes water to the downstream detriment of oystermen, endangered mussels and the overall economy. Georgia’s two rivers meet at the Florida line to form the Apalachicola River.

Florida beseeched the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the case and to “equitably apportion” the rivers’ waters. The high court appointed a special master, Ralph Lancaster from Portland, to hear it. Once Lancaster rules, expected early next year, the Supreme Court will likely weigh in.

Florida wants to keep Georgia water withdrawals at 1992 levels when metro Atlanta was home to only half as many people as it is today. Georgia appears to have the upper legal hand. Florida must first prove that Georgia is to blame for its water woes, in particular the damage done by a low-flowing Apalachicola River to oysters and the oyster industry.

Georgia, in its pre-trial briefing filed Thursday, said Florida’s case is without merit serving only to “jeopardize” the state’s economy.

“Accepting Florida’s proposed remedies would thus inflict massive economic injury on Georgia’s farmers and Atlanta’s water supply, without providing any measurable benefit to Florida,” the filing reads. “

Water-using industries across Metro Atlanta — chicken processors, Lockheed Martin, landscapers, utilities — contribute $13.5 billion to the region’s economy, according to Georgia’s legal brief, and employ 50,000. Cotton, peanuts, corn and other crops throughout the Chattahoochee, Flint and Apalachicola regions carried an economic impact of $4 billion.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Georgia Politics

From power to prison, Walker still dispensing advice on politics
From power to prison, Walker still dispensing advice on politics

He revelled in the nickname. The Hammer. A share-cropper’s son turned millionaire Augusta businessman, Charles Walker rose to become the Georgia Senate’s first African-American majority leader. He had the power to make sure most anything he wanted for his community made it into the state budget, and the political muscle to get things done...
What Sonny Perdue’s Cabinet promotion could mean for Georgia
What Sonny Perdue’s Cabinet promotion could mean for Georgia

When Matt Coley left his job on Capitol Hill a few years back, he decided to return to his family’s decidedly un-Washington business of growing cotton and peanuts. He now tends to roughly 3,400 acres about 45 minutes south of Bonaire, the Middle Georgia town called home by the soon-to-be most powerful man in agriculture. That man is former Gov...
How the 6th District went from red to purple
How the 6th District went from red to purple

Democrat Jon Ossoff’s trail of blue through Georgia’s 6th District flowed from the working-class Tucker suburb to the antique shops of Chamblee through the southern stretch of fast-urbanizing Dunwoody and blossomed across much of Sandy Springs. It darted north from there, hugging the spine of Ga. 400 — and the MARTA line — curving...
Georgians send Trump nearly $2.4 million for inauguration
Georgians send Trump nearly $2.4 million for inauguration

Georgians ponied up at least $2.39 million for President Donald Trump’s inaugural festivities in January. More than two dozen companies and individuals from the state helped Trump raise $107 million for 20 inaugural events, shattering the fundraising record set by President Barack Obama in 2009, according to new federal filings released this...
At least 20 members of the House are registered to vote outside their districts
At least 20 members of the House are registered to vote outside their districts

While voters in Georgia's 6th Congressional District were headed to the polls during Tuesday's special election, President Donald Trump shared a factoid that had just been brought to his attention. "Just learned that Jon Ossoff, who is running for Congress in Georgia," he tweeted, "doesn't even live in the district. Republicans, get...
More Stories