The United States Supreme Court has announced it will hear oral arguments in the Florida versus Georgia water usage lawsuit beginning this week. The case centers around Florida's efforts to mandate a statewide water usage cap for the state of Georgia in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin. Previously, as CCA Florida has reported to its members, a U.S. Supreme Court Special Master held that Florida failed to establish proposed usage remedies would be effective in providing relief to the Apalachicola River and Apalachicola Bay. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a major manager of impoundments along the Chattahoochee River, was not a party to the lawsuit. The legal action represents the most recent battle in the long-running “water wars” among the Southeastern states over the Apalachicola-Flint-Chattahoochee River Basin. The state of Alabama has typically sided with Florida on the matter.

The 2018 high court calendar also includes hearing arguments in a similar case involving Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado, in which Texas is arguing that New Mexico is in violation of the Rio Grande Compact by diverting water before it reaches Texas. Both cases will be reviewed by the Court after rulings by a Special Master, and require the Justices to determine whether to uphold or modify those decisions.

We're continuing to monitor all issues involving the Apalachicola River, given the importance fresh water inputs from the river have on multiple marine resources and habitat in Apalachicola Bay and a large portion of the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Correct salinity balances are crucial in Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf for several species of marine animals, from oysters and blue crabs to red drum and tarpon.