FL disappointed in U.S. Supreme Court ruling on long-running water wars between FL and Georgia

Culling oysters, Apalachicola Bay, FL. Nancy Nusz, Collector; State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the U.S. Supreme Court “unanimously dismissed Florida’s water lawsuit against Georgia on Thursday,” following years of legal battles.

The AP added: “The court rejected Florida’s claim that Georgia uses too much of the water that flows from the Atlanta suburbs to the Gulf of Mexico. Florida said that its neighbor’s overconsumption is to blame for the decimation of Florida’s oyster industry.”

The justices heard oral arguments back in February. Justices didn’t indicate how they would rule, and appeared conflicted on the evidence provided by both sides over the long-running fight between Florida oystermen and Georgia farmers over water rights, according to a Phoenix story earlier this year.

The case, Florida v. Georgia, stems from a 2013 lawsuit filed by the state of Florida that argued Georgia was using too much water from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system, which resulted in damage to oystermen in the Sunshine State.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried offered the following statement on Thursday:

“The Supreme Court’s ruling is disappointing for the thousands of families whose livelihoods depend on the waters of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochie-Flint River Basin.

“The Court may have disagreed, but the hardworking Floridians of our oyster fisheries know that water overconsumption by Georgia has contributed to a 98 percent decline in value of Florida’s oyster catch. While we work to protect Florida’s waters, our Division of Aquaculture will continue working hard to support our oyster industry every way that we can.”

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.