Clyde Morris, the attorney for the Lake Lanier Association, along with the attorneys for the State, metro Atlanta water supply providers, and Gwinnett County, has filed what we expect to be our last brief in Phase 2 of the Tri-State Water Rights Litigation.
This brief responded to arguments raised by Florida, Alabama, and other parties regarding the Corps’ operation of the ACF facilities. At issue is the Revised Interim Operations Plan (RIOP), which was implemented by the Corps in response to pressure from Florida and which heavily impacted Lake Lanier water levels in late 2007. Florida invoked the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to force the Corps to maintain higher flows during drought for the protection of several threatened and endangered species in the Apalachicola River. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a 225-page Biological Opinion stating that the RIOP would not result in illegal harm to the species under the ESA, but also imposed certain requirements on flows that the Association has objected to because they will unnecessarily deplete Lake Lanier. The Association is seeking to have Judge Magnuson rule that the ESA does not require the Corps to provide the high flows that Florida demands. We expect a ruling in the next few months.