A Dispatch from the Water Wars -- The Georgia Front


Mark Twain’s observation about the relative uses of water and whiskey evidently applies as much in the Southeast as out West. As an epochal drought persists, Florida and Alabama continue to battle with Georgia over who gets the water from Lake Lanier, a federal reservoir that supplies water to over 3 million residents of Atlanta – and feeds the Apalachicola River that flows down to Florida and Alabama. The latest skirmish was before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit (Southeastern Fed. Power Customers, Inc. v. Geren).

The specific issue before the court was a 2003 agreement between Georgia and the U.S. Corps of Engineers (Corps), the federal agency that operates Lake Lanier. The agreement would have given metro Atlanta 65% more water from Lake Lanier (representing about a quarter of the reservoir’s storage capacity). Florida and Alabama sued to invalidate the deal, claiming that Georgia’s withdrawals from the reservoir would sharply reduce the flows essential for their municipalities, industries, recreational water users, and wetlands ecosystems. They brought claims under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Flood Control Act, and the Water Supply Act. One of the factual allegations was that Georgia had done virtually nothing to reduce water usage through conservation or land use controls.

The court sided with Florida and Alabama, although it did not address some of the more provocative issues under NEPA and the Flood Control Act.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Morrison & Foerster LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Morrison & Foerster LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.