Next Story

Deal nominates Pat Wilson for economic development chief

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

Georgia ethics panel to begin auditing candidates in governor’s race
Georgia ethics panel to begin auditing candidates in governor’s race

After years of mainly investigating issues raised by Georgians, the state’s ethics watchdog agency plans to get proactive and audit campaign filings from all of the major statewide races coming up. Stefan Ritter, the executive secretary of the ethics commission, said while some details still have to be worked out, but that will mean auditing...
From the Right, the advice for Trump is to try diplomacy
From the Right, the advice for Trump is to try diplomacy

A roundup of editorials Friday looks at the idea that kicking North Korea out of the UN would go a long way toward helping the current situation, and that having President Donald Trump negotiate instead of threaten would be the best move to make.  Here are some opinions from the Right. From The Wall Street Journal: If the world community is serious...
What the Left is saying about the North Korean threat
What the Left is saying about the North Korean threat

A roundup of editorials Friday includes a suggestion on bringing the North Korean conflict under control, the irrationality of Donald Trump’s policy toward Pyongyang and the idea that pressuring China will help ease tensions. Here are some opinions from the Left. Newsday: If China is going to continue to shore up North Korea, they should expect...
The Right reacts to Graham-Cassidy
The Right reacts to Graham-Cassidy

A roundup of editorials Thursday takes a look at the Graham-Cassidy health care proposal. Will the bill strike the right balance between the federal government’s role in health care and what states will be expected to do? Here are some opinions from the Right. From Roll Call: The problem with the Graham-Cassidy plan is lack of momentum. A majority...
The Left slams Graham-Cassidy health care bill
The Left slams Graham-Cassidy health care bill

A roundup of editorials Thursday takes a look at the Graham-Cassidy health care proposal. Despite a heavy agenda, the bill is likely to come up on the Senate floor next week. Here are some opinions from the Left. 1. Cassidy-Graham is attractive in theory. But it has a giant flaw. From The Washington Post: An experiment in democracy is interesting...
More Stories