A federal appeals panel has tossed a lower court ruling that would have severely restricted the main water source for roughly three million people in metro Atlanta.
The ruling Tuesday by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an order from U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson. His order would have starkly cut Atlanta's ability to take water from Lake Lanier starting in July 2012 unless the governors of Georgia, Alabama and Florida can reach an agreement ending the long-running water dispute.
The appeals court says the U.S. Corps of Engineers must first issue a final decision on whether Georgia can have more water before legal challenges can proceed.
Lawyers for Georgia say Congress always intended the lake would supply Atlanta with water.
Governor Nathan Deal's office issued a statement, calling the decision a "great victory".