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Monday, June 25, 2012 - 7:42am

Court Declines To Decide Water War

Updated: 2 years ago.
The U.S. Supreme Court will not intervene in a tri-state water dispute between Alabama, Georgia and Florida that has threatened the metro Atlanta area's water supply.(photo courtesy Cameron Cassan)

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear arguments in the water dispute between Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

That means the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can work on determining how much water to take from Lake Lanier to supply drinking water to millions of metro Atlantans.

Alabama and Florida had argued that Georgia wanted to take too much water, threatening communities downstream.

Attorney Todd Silliman argued Georgia’s side in the decades-long dispute. He says the ruling is a victory for Georgia, but the matter isn’t completely resolved.

“There are further things the Corps has to do. And we do have the other phase of the case which relates to endangered species in the Apalachicola River.”

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley says he is disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision. But he says there are more undecided issues related to reliable river flows. He says "Alabama will continue to fight to ensure that downstream communities receive the amount of water to which they are entitled under federal law."

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens says he hopes to work with Alabama and Florida officials to develop a fair and equitable water sharing plan. He says this decision puts the Governors of the three states at an even playing field for the first time.

Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can finalize guidelines on how much water to draw from Lake Lanier. That could take another year, and could result in more legal challenges.

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