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Monday, September 19, 2011 - 9:40am

Water War Inches Toward Supreme Court

Alabama is asking the US Supreme Court to take up the decades-long tri-state water dispute after a federal court in Atlanta decided not to rehear the case.

The 11th District Court of Appeals gave Georgia a favorable ruling earlier this summer, saying Atlanta could tap it for its drinking water needs. Alabama and Florida filed for a rehearing and were denied.

They say the state takes too much and it threatens downstream needs.

Alabama's governor says he will ask the US Supreme Court to review the case.

It has 90 days to decide if it will take up the issue.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been operating on an interim basis for decades.

The appeal's court denial of a re-hearing means the Corps must begin to make permanent decisions on water flows, says lawyer Todd Silliman who represents Georgia in the case.

"In light of the 11th Circuit having clarified the Corp’s authority, under various statues," says Silliman. "The Corps has to make certain determinations that are more technical about how and to what degree it will meet certain water supply needs."

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