Alabama joins Florida to request cap on Georgia water use

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Alabama filed a brief Friday supporting Florida’s federal lawsuit to cap Georgia’s water use from federal reservoirs that terminate in Apalachicola Bay.

The state cited its “long experience combating Georgia’s excessive withdrawals” and said Georgia “has largely chosen not to invest its resources in reservoirs and other infrastructure” as the population of Atlanta has outgrown its water supply.

Florida filed the suit in 2013, arguing that Georgia’s excessive water use has been damaging the seafood industry in Apalachicola Bay, and Alabama is one of several parties to file a brief in support of Florida’s case ahead of the Oct. 21 deadline set by the court.

In addition to Alabama, the National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, Florida Wildlife Federation, and Apalachicola Riverkeeper filed a joint brief in support of Florida’s suit.

Those groups said the “long-term ecological sustainability of this vital and vibrant ecosystem depends, critically, on freshwater flows moving through the system at the right times” and that Georgia’s increased water consumption from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint system have dried out the Apalachicola River, “threatening the survival of numerous species and jeopardizing the economic vitality of local communities.”

Georgia has its share of supporters as well, including Colorado, which argued in a brief that Florida must not only prove it has been damaged by the increased water use, but be able to show that the damage incurred is greater than the benefit received by Georgia.

The case is set to go to trial Oct. 31 in Portland, Maine.

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