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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Georgia Loses Major Ruling On Water Rights

WASHINGTON (CN) - Florida and Alabama won a victory in the D.C. Circuit over a water-rights agreement among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Georgia water supply companies and Southeastern Federal Power Customers Inc. to reduce the amount of water in a federal reservoir near Atlanta.

Under the 2003 agreement, Georgia would receive more than 20 percent of Lake Sidney Lanier's water capacity as part of the state's plan to supply drinking water to Atlanta residents.

Alabama and Florida argued that Georgia has no legal rights to the reservoir water, and that its plan to reallocate up to 240,858 acre-feet of storage space to the water providers constitutes a "major operational change" requiring Congressional approval.

They further allege that the arrangement will reduce the flow of the Chattahoochee River for up to 20 years, harming the surrounding environment and species that rely on the river.

The court reversed approval of the agreement, concluding that it was a drastic enough operational change to require authorization from Congress.

Judge Silberman wrote a concurring opinion.

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