Florida takes exceptions to recommendation in water lawsuit
In the ongoing Supreme Court battle over access to water from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers, Florida recently filed its exceptions to the recommendation of Special Master Paul Kelly.
In the case, which is classified as an “equitable apportionment” case where one party seeks imposed water use restrictions on another, Florida is asking the court to require Georgia to allow more water to flow through the Chattahoochee and Flint into the Apalachicola River. Florida says this would help restore its struggling oyster industry on the Apalachicola Bay.
In December 2019, Kelly recommended that the court decline Florida’s request, saying that the evidence had not shown that Georgia’s water use had harmed Florida. Additionally, Kelly noted that Georgia’s water use is reasonable and that the benefits Florida would derive from an apportionment order would not outweigh potential harm the order would cause to Georgia, which stands to suffer significant agricultural economic losses if an apportionment order is issued.
Florida took exception to the special master’s recommendation, saying that Kelly used flawed legal framework, re-asserting that Florida’s oyster losses were caused by Georgia’s water use, which Florida continues to say is unreasonable and unrestrained. Florida also argued that a court denial would undermine the court’s assigned role under the U.S. Constitution.
According to the case docket, Georgia has until June 12 to respond to Florida’s exceptions.