Water wars: Supreme Court rules for Georgia over Florida in decades-long case

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After decades of legal battles, it appears the state of Georgia finally won the water wars with the state of Florida.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously for Georgia on Thursday in the long-running dispute that dates back to the 1990s.

Florida has claimed that metro Atlanta and southwest Georgia took so much water from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers that it ruined the oyster fisheries in the Apalachicola Bay where both rivers empty.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote for the court that Florida failed to prove its case.

“Considering the record as a whole, Florida has not shown that it is ‘highly probable’ that Georgia’s alleged overconsumption played more than a trivial role in the collapse of Florida’s oyster fisheries,” Barrett wrote.

In 2013, a special master appointed by the Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit that Florida filed. Thursday’s ruling by the Supreme Court upheld that decision.

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Channel 2′s Richard Elliot spoke with Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr shortly after the ruling.

“The facts and the law were on our side, and our team just did a great job making sure that, the special master first understood and the Supreme Court agreed,” Carr said.

Carr said they proved that metro Atlanta and Georgia agriculture is using the water responsibly and he’s glad that the case is over.

“You don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring, but in this case, it is. We feel good about that, and again, based on the facts and the law, we’re doing the right things. We just need to continue to do those, and I know we will,” Carr said.

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The governor’s office also put out a statement applauding the decision, calling it a “resounding victory.”

“The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision is a resounding victory for Georgia and a vindication of years-long effort by multiple governors and attorneys general here in the Peach State to protect our citizens’ water rights,” Gov. Brian Kemp said. “Our state will continue to wisely manage water resources and prioritize conservation, while also protecting Georgia’s economy and access to water.”

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