decision

Decision in Florida vs. Georgia ‘Water War’

Dan Cooper Florida, Georgia, Water

decision

This latest decision has been made regarding the longstanding argument between Florida and Georgia about water issues growing more complex as populations boom in these two deep southeastern states.

In The
Supreme Court of the United States

——————————— * ———————————
STATE OF FLORIDA,
Plaintiff,

v.
STATE OF GEORGIA,
Defendant.

——————————— * ———————————
CHAMBERS OF THE SPECIAL MASTER
——————————— * ———————————
REPORT OF THE SPECIAL MASTER
DECEMBER 11, 2019

——————————— * ———————————
PAUL J. KELLY, JR.
Special Master
United States Circuit Judge
P.O. Box 10113
Santa Fe, NM 87504-6113
(505) 988-6541
Judge_Paul_Kelly@
ca10.uscourts.gov

I. Introduction
This original jurisdiction proceeding—in which Florida seeks a decree apportioning the waters of the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee, and Flint River Basins (ACF Basin)—comes before me on remand from the Supreme Court. See Florida v. Georgia, 138 S. Ct. 2502, 2518 (2018); Order Appointing Judge Paul J. Kelly, Jr. as Special Master, _ S. Ct. _, 2018 WL 3765202 (Aug. 9, 2018), amended 139 S. Ct. 57 (Sept. 25, 2018) (mem.). Before I was appointed Special Master, a previous Special Master—Ralph Lancaster, Jr.—conducted pre-trial proceedings, oversaw a multi-week trial, and ultimately recommended that the Supreme Court deny Florida’s request for relief. The Supreme Court concluded that Special Master Lancaster applied the incorrect legal standard and remanded with instructions to make further factual findings. Florida, 138 S. Ct. at 2508. I was then appointed Special Master.

Before I describe how the case has progressed since I was appointed Special Master, I briefly recount the history of the dispute concerning the ACF Basin, which is described more fully in the previous Report of the Special Master, 2017 WL 656655 (Feb. 14, 2017) (hereinafter Lancaster Rep.), and this Court’s decision in Florida. One can trace the origins of the dispute between Florida and Georgia to 1990 when Alabama sued to enjoin the United States Army Corps of Engineers (the “Army Corps” or “Corps”) from reallocating storage in the Basin for water supply to municipal and
industrial use in Georgia. Lancaster Rep., 2017 WL 656655, at *10–11. However, that lawsuit was put on…..CONTINUE READING

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