The state is claiming victory in its decades long water dispute with neighboring states over water rights to Lake Lanier. A federal appeals court ruled on Georgia’s behalf.
The ruling overturns a lower court’s decision that imperiled Atlanta’s drinking water source.
It said Lake Lanier wasn’t created for water supply and Georgia had to come to a water sharing agreement with Florida and Alabama by next summer or face a cut off.
Governor Nathan Deal says even though the appeals court decision got rid of that looming threat, the state still has to address lingering issues with its neighbors.
"I do think this opinion has made it a little easier to negotiate because we no longer have to ask the question as to whether water supply is a legitimate federal purpose in the law and now the court has said it is a legitimate use," says Deal.
Alabama’s governor says the state will seek an appeal of the full court.
The ruling does not resolve Florida’s lawsuit over how water flows affect endangered species down stream. It also doesn’t address Alabama’s legal dispute with the Army Corps of Engineers over Georgia’s use of Lake Allatoona for water supply.
Deal says the states need to resolve their long standing water issues as quickly as possible.