SCOTUS Returns Water Wars Case To Special Master

It’s Not over.

The Tri-State Water Wars have remanded the Tri State Water Wars case back to the Special Master. In a 5-4 decision, SCOTUS has said that different criteria need to be considered. You can read the full decision here.

The case follows after a recommendation from a Special Master in February of 2017 that sided with Georgia in the war over Atlanta’s superior economic growth water to feed an Alabama nuclear power plant and oysters in Apalachiacola bay.

Justice Clarence Thomas (a Georgia native) wrote the dissent, noting that he would have denied Florida’s request for relief.

The remanding of the case continues the legal battle between Florida and Georgia (with Alabama on the side of Florida). There is also the reality that Florida (and Alabama) will likely continue to try and litigate this matter via Congress. With Richard Shelby now chair of Senate Appropriations, attempts will likely continue to embed changes to water rights into Senate bills. Luckily for Georgia, the precedent would affect many western states, who are likely to resist such measures.

Updated, Governor Deal has issued the following statement:

“Though the Court remanded this case back to the Special Master following a five-week trial, during which the ineffectiveness of draconian caps placed on Georgia’s water use as a solution was demonstrated, I remain confident in the state’s legal position,” said Deal. “Georgia heeded the Special Master’s warning and took legislative action, which is now law, to address his concerns. I look forward to continuing to defend our position in this case. Georgia remains committed to the conservation efforts that make us amicable stewards of our water resources and Attorney General Chris Carr and I remain committed to making every effort to defend Georgia’s water resources for our current and future citizens. We look forward to obtaining a positive ruling on the merits in this case.”

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