Posts tagged "Tri-States"

WATER WARS II Lake Lanier’s Own Version of “WW II”

November 4th, 2014 Posted by Water Quantity 0 comments on “WATER WARS II Lake Lanier’s Own Version of “WW II””

By: Clyde Morris, Attorney for the Lake Lanier Association

About a year ago, Florida asked for permission to file suit against Georgia in the Supreme Court of the United States, asking the high court to equitably apportion the waters of the ACF in a way that would send more water to Florida.  Yesterday, the Court granted Florida leave to file its Complaint against Georgia and gave Georgia thirty days to file its Answer.

This case is about “equitable apportionment,” which at its most fundamental level is about how much of the ACF’s water each state is entitled to use by law.  To quote one excerpt from Florida’s Complaint:

50. The existing storage, evaporation, and consumption of water by Georgia’s municipal, industrial, recreational, and agricultural users have diminished the amount of water entering Florida in spring and summer of drought years by as much as 3,000-4,000 cubic feet per second (“cfs”). This has altered the flow regime of the Apalachicola River during the most vulnerable times for riverine and estuarine species. In recent drought years, Apalachicola River flows averaged less than 5,500 cfs throughout the entire late-spring-summer-fall period from May through December. Such long durations of extremely low flows were unprecedented before 2000.

So, the challenge is all about the amount of ACF flow to which Florida is entitled, which in turn is fundamental to the LLA’s mission of “Full Lake” (and spurred the LLA to dive into the Water Wars previously).  To quote a portion of Florida’s Prayer for Relief:

Florida further prays that the Court enter an order enjoining Georgia, its privies, assigns, lessees, and other persons claiming under it, from interfering with Florida’s rights, and capping Georgia’s overall depletive water uses at the level then existing on January 3, 1992.

In determining whether to cap “Georgia’s overall depletive water uses at the level then existing on January 3, 1992,” the Supreme Court will consider the uses to which the State of Georgia and the Corps of Engineers now put the waters of the ACF, as well as the uses for which Florida seeks to obtain more of that water.

The fact that there is an original jurisdiction, equitable apportionment case in the Supreme Court of the United States that could determine forever how much of the water in the ACF we may be able to keep and use is of august importance to everyone in Georgia, and especially to those who are concerned about Lake Lanier.  And while it is perhaps hard to imagine this beautiful lake, which supports millions of people, being drained to prop up a desirable but tenuous oyster farming operation in the Gulf of Mexico that has recently been the victim of Florida’s overharvesting as much as nature’s droughts, that is the proposition that has been laid before this nation’s highest court.

We will periodically update membership on the case via the LLA website and newsletter.  But for now, it is most important to recognize the critical importance of Florida’s legal action and the extensive repercussions that could result on Lake Lanier.

ACF Stakeholders Group Press Release Regarding Florida Lawsuit

October 9th, 2013 Posted by Water Quantity 0 comments on “ACF Stakeholders Group Press Release Regarding Florida Lawsuit”

We thought the Lake Lanier Association members would be interested in seeing this press release issued by the ACF Stakeholders group last week in relation to the latest legal threat by Florida Governor Scott.


News Release   October 3, 2013
Contact:  Greg Euston, (404) 775-0285


ACF Stakeholders Say Water Dispute Can’t Be Solved In A Courtroom

HELEN, Ga. – October 3, 2013 – The Governing Board of ACF Stakeholders, Inc. (ACFS), an organization of local governments, power producers, farmers and oystermen, manufacturers and conservationists throughout the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river basin, called on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to “delay any further legal action or the pursuit of any current lawsuit.”   Earlier this week, Scott filed a lawsuit against the state of Georgia, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to force Georgia to reduce its water consumption in the ACF river basin, which runs from the mountains of north Georgia to the Apalachicola Bay in Florida.

Rather than another courtroom battle, ACFS believes its recommendations for a sustainable water management plan can form the foundation of a tri-state consensus.  This work is expected to be completed before June 2014.

“More than two decades of legal fighting has not led to any reasonable solution of this situation,” ACFS Governing Board Chairman Billy Turner said. “We firmly believe that any solution to this dispute will happen in a conference room, not a court room, and will rely on scientific data rather than legal debates.”

Since 2010, ACFS has been working on a sustainable water management plan based on science, good data and consensus. Over the last four years, the group has raised over $1.3 million to accumulate and model the data necessary to develop a consensus-driven plan.

The Governing Board crafted and passed this resolution during its regular quarterly meeting at Unicoi State Park in Georgia.  Past meetings have been held in Alabama and Florida.    The Governing Board is comprised of 56 individuals representing all aspects of the river basin’s economic, agricultural, aquacultural, recreational and environmental concerns.  Membership on the board is divided equally among the four ACF sub-basins and includes membership from Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

ACF Stakeholders, Inc. is a group of water users in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river basin of Alabama, Florida and Georgia who are working together for sustainable water management.


Water Control Manual Update Comments

March 6th, 2013 Posted by Water Quantity 0 comments on “Water Control Manual Update Comments”

Next time you wonder why you should financially support the LLA, read the Florida Water Control Manual Update comments letter and realize that they are urging the Corps to bring Lanier down to 1035′ during times of drought. You thought 1050′ was difficult, image 1035′! A significant part of our advocacy role is monitoring what other stakeholder groups are advocating for, determining what sort of impact that would have on Lanier, and then affecting change where we can. We are actively working on three different areas that impact lake levels:  more water, less consumption, better operating rules. It takes time, effort, and money to do that. If you are already a member, thank you for supporting our mission. If you are not currently a member, please consider joining. Please share this information with your friends and neighbors so that they too can support advocating for Lanier and we can increase our membership size, voice, and influence.

In case you would like to read some of the Water Control Manual Update comments, they are posted on our website in the Library section.

Supreme Court Upholds 11th Circuit Water Wars Ruling

June 25th, 2012 Posted by Water Quantity 0 comments on “Supreme Court Upholds 11th Circuit Water Wars Ruling”

By: Clyde Morris, Attorney for the Lake Lanier Association

 “The petitions for writs of certiorari are denied.”  With those eight words, the United States Supreme Court put its stamp of finality on the issue of whetherLakeLanieris authorized to be used for water supply.  Thus ends the legal issue that has been at the heart of the Tri-States controversy for over two decades.

 But lest we get ahead of ourselves, the appeal denial handed down this morning by the Supreme Court is not the end of the Water Wars.  Soon the Corps of Engineers will be issuing its own determination of how much storage it can allocate for water supply in Lanier.  And while that is an issue that could spawn another round of legal battles, it clearly does not carry the magnitude of the more fundamental issue of whether storage may legally be allocated to water supply at all.

 And there is still another phase in this bifurcated litigation that has not yet come before the Eleventh Circuit: the portion dealing with the Endangered Species Act and the volume of flows required to be sent to Floridafor their protection.  The U. S.Fish and Wildlife Service only a month ago issued its final Biological Opinion regarding some changes in the Corps’ Revised Interim Operations Plan – the operating rules the Corps will follow until it issues a new ACF Water Supply Manual in the next few years.  Florida appealed Judge Magnuson’s Phase 2 ruling – that the RIOP does not violate the ESA – to the 11th Circuit nearly two years ago, but the appeal has been held in abeyance pending issuance of FWS’s new Biological Opinion.  The new opinion essentially reinforces FWS’s previous conclusion that the endangered and threatened species will not be harmed by the RIOP, even with the new changes.

 So where does this leave us now?  According to the RIOP, flows at the Floridastate line must be a minimum of 5,000 cfs unless drought contingency operations are triggered, in which case the minimum required flow is reduced to 4,500 cfs.  The Corps is under orders from the 11th Circuit to issue its determination by June 28 on how much storage it is authorized to allocate to water supply.  So by the end of this week, the LLA and the rest of the litigants will know the Corps’ position and will be forming decisions about how best to move forward.  But one thing we know already: the LLA will continue to represent its members in protectingLakeLanier’s water level and water quality, as it has for over 45 years.

Remember Alabama’s Ally

March 25th, 2011 Posted by Water Quantity 0 comments on “Remember Alabama’s Ally”

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal recently told members of his state’s water-supply task force that he plans to resolve the water-war dispute with Alabama before going on to deal with Florida. Is this some sort of a “divide and conquer” tactic? Maybe. However, it also may be the simple recognition that setting an acceptable flow of water for the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa river basin may be the easiest of Georgia’s problems to deal with.

Lake Lanier Association files brief in Tri-States Litigation

March 9th, 2010 Posted by Water Quantity 0 comments on “Lake Lanier Association files brief in Tri-States Litigation”

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.

Lake Lanier Association urges lawmakers to protect Lake Lanier from Florida and Alabama’s legal attacks on recreation and to consider raising the lake level to 1073 to create additional water storage

January 20th, 2010 Posted by Water Quantity 0 comments on “Lake Lanier Association urges lawmakers to protect Lake Lanier from Florida and Alabama’s legal attacks on recreation and to consider raising the lake level to 1073 to create additional water storage”

Letter sent to Georgia legislators from the districts around Lake Lanier on January 15, 2010 with copies to the governor, lieutenant governor, federal lawmakers and Corps officials.

As the Georgia legislature begins its session this month, the members of the Lake Lanier Association (LLA) ask for your help in protecting Georgia’s finest natural resource. As the Tri-States water wars litigation and negotiations move forward, we ask that the Georgia State Senators and State House Representatives protect Lake Lanier from the substantial and persistent Florida and Alabama attacks.

In addition to the highly publicized July 2009 ruling against Georgia regarding water supply authorization for Lanier, Judge Magnuson decided to not make a decision recreation as an authorized purpose of Lake Lanier. While the US Army Corps of Engineers has managed the Lake for recreation for 50+ years, and has been federally funded by congress for that activity through the budget process, Florida and Alabama contend that Lanier was not authorized for recreational purposes. Lanier contributes $1 – $2 billion to the North Georgia economy. Major water level draw downs (i.e. the 2007- 2008 drought) negatively affect that economic engine. We hope that Georgia will pass a resolution that supports a US Congressional authorization for recreation on Lake Lanier as an official purpose.

One of Governor Perdue’s initiatives as part of his task force on water alternatives is to investigate additional reservoirs in Georgia for water supply. For the past 3 years, LLA and the Georgia legislature have been driving for a 2 foot increase in the full pool level of Lanier (from 1071 to 1073 feet above sea level), thereby creating a new 26 – 27 billion gallon reservoir for the state (larger than Lake Seminole). This could be accomplished rapidly and implemented for modest costs. A resolution passed in the Georgia legislature in 2007 called for investigation into the possibility of 1073 as a strategy for additional water supply in the State. We ask that the Georgia legislature again pass a resolution that encourages the US Congress and the Corps to implement 1073 as “normal pool” water level for Lake Lanier.

Thank you in advance for your support of Lake Lanier and the economy of North Georgia.

Sincerely, V. M. Perry, Jr. Executive Vice President, LLA Lake Lanier Association Executive Summary

Lake Lanier Association Executive Summary