Some Stories Just Keep Going… And Going… And Going. The Florida-Georgia Water Case, for Example.
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In a prior piece in this series, the long-enduring water dispute between Florida and Georgia was described in detail. 1 As explained in that article:
Florida has been locked in a long-standing legal battle with Georgia regarding the ability to use freshwater running from the “ACF river basin” (that is, the Apalachicola River, Chattahoochee River, Flint River) south through North Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico. Why? Because both states have growing populations and economies which need access to that water to address that ‘thirst’. If Georgia drains off too much of the water from the source, there may not be a sufficient amount to handle Florida’s human, agricultural, and business needs. 2
Given the nature of a state versus state dispute, the case appears under the constitutional ‘original jurisdiction’ of the U.S. Supreme Court. 3
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Paul J. Kelly, who is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been appointed as the second Special Master by the Supreme Court to hear the case and issue a recommendation to the Court, which the Justices will use to determine an outcome. Judge Kelly will convene a hearing on the matter on November 7. This phase of the case is actually the second go ‘round because the Court rejected the first report from Judge Kelly’s predecessor on procedural grounds.
One major impact of the water use issues which underlie the case will be on Florida’s Gulf Coast oyster industry. As described:
Florida officials say decreased flows to the Apalachicola River led to the 2012 collapse of the state’s oyster fishery in Apalachicola Bay. The collapse has jeopardized the livelihood of many Florida oystermen and the economic vitality of coastal communities where seafood is the primary industry.
Apalachicola Bay once produced 10% of the nation’s oysters, said Georgia Ackerman, executive director of the Apalachicola Riverkeeper, an organization that advocates for the protection of the Apalachicola River and Bay.
Ten years ago, the bay supported several hundred oyster boats harvesting about 20 bags per day. Today, only a dozen or so boats patrol the bay, collecting just two bags of oysters daily. 4
”Given the nature of a state versus state dispute, the case appears under the constitutional ‘original jurisdiction’ of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The resolution of the case, then, will have a substantial impact on the economies of both Florida and Georgia. It is highly unlikely that Judge Kelly will – or will actually be in a position to – make a quick recommendation to the Supreme Court for its review and consideration. It will, then, be necessary to monitor this interstate dispute as it continues to work its way through the highest levels of the nation’s judicial system.
Which this series will do.
1 See https://www.boginmunns.com/florida-georgia-water-case-remains-before-supreme-court/
2 See Ibid. Internal footnote omitted.
3 See https://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/educational-resources/about-educational-outreach/activity-resources/about
4 See https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/10/30/fate-apalachicola-bay-oysters-back-court-florida-vs-georgia/4054299002/
– For more information, call Philip N. Kabler of the Gainesville, FL office of Bogin, Munns & Munns at 352.332.7688, where he practices in the areas of business, banking, real estate, and equine law. He has taught business and real estate law courses at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business Administration and Levin College of Law and is the President-Elect of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association.
NOTICE: The article above is not intended to serve as legal advice, and you should not rely on it as such. It is offered only as general information. You should consult with a duly licensed attorney regarding your Florida legal matter, as every situation is unique. Please know that merely reading this article, subscribing to this blog, or otherwise contacting Bogin, Munns & Munns does not establish an attorney-client relationship with our firm. Should you seek legal representation from Bogin, Munns & Munns, any such representation must first be agreed to by the firm and confirmed in a written agreement.