Georgia Gains Momentum as Tri-State Water War Rages On

On Monday, June 25th, the United States Supreme Court made a ruling refusing to hear the appeals made by the states of Florida andAlabama in the Tri-State Water War.  Federal judge Paul Magnuson issued a ruling on July 17th, 2009, which stated that the Army Corps of Engineers did not seek approval from the United States Congress when allowing for the release of water from Lake Sydney Lanier to the Metro Atlanta region for use as a water supply.  By implementing a three year suspension on his order to cease reallocation of water from Lake Lanier, he gave the states of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida until July of this year to reach a resolution that has been approved by Congress.  If no resolution was reached, the Metro Atlanta region would no longer have been able to useLake Lanier as a water supply in its current capacity.  Buford Dam operations would have returned to base line operations that were in place in the 1970s.  Judge Magnuson’s lower-court ruling was overturned by the 11th United States Circuit Court of Appeals on June 28, 2011 agreeing with Georgia that one of the purposes of the Lake Lanier Reservoir is to be a drinking supply for the metro Atlantaregion.  The court gave the United State Army Corps of Engineers one year to make a final decision on how to handle water allocation from Lake Lanier.

On Tuesday, June 26th, the United States Army Corps of Engineers added to the good news for the region by determining that it has the authority to grant Georgia’s request to make withdrawals from Lake Lanier for water supply needs.  While the Corps did not immediately grant this request stating the need to thoroughly review the environmental impacts and possible alternatives, this decision is a huge step forward.  In 2000, the Corps denied a similar request.  

Both of these decisions are a giant step forward for the metro Atlanta region.  Leaders from Georgia, Alabama, Florida and the Army Corps of Engineers are now able to work towards a solution that will meet the needs of all users in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin.  The Council for Quality Growth has been following this issue closely during the twenty-year litigation and will continue to do so as these decisions are being made. 

CLICK HERE for more on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision

CLICK HERE for more on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision.