The state of Georgia and the Atlanta Regional Commission have spent about $18.7 million in outside legal fees during two decades of legal battles involving Florida and Alabama over access to drinking water.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the tab is viewed by the state and local communities as critical to protecting metro Atlanta's economy. That's because authorities say a shortage of drinking water, by some estimates, would cost the local economy billions annually.
Georgia has been locked in an ongoing feud with neighboring Alabama and Florida over its use of water from the Chattahoochee River. That river, the main water source for millions of people in metro Atlanta, flows along the border of Alabama and Georgia. That water then flows across Florida before reaching the Gulf of Mexico.