Posts Tagged ‘water use’

Official sides with Georgia over Florida in water lawsuit

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

A judicial official sided with Georgia in a decades-long dispute over water rights with Florida on Tuesday, recommending that the U.S. Supreme Court refuse Florida’s high-stakes request to cap water use by its neighboring state.
The dispute focuses on the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, covering nearly 20,000 square miles in western Georgia, eastern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. The Chattahoochee and Flint rivers meet at the Georgia-Florida border to form the Apalachicola, which flows into the bay and the Gulf of Mexico beyond.
The recommendation from Special Master Ralph Lancaster, who was appointed by the court to oversee Florida’s suit against Georgia, isn’t a final decision. The court’s review of Lancaster’s report and responses from each state could take months. The states’ battle over water use dates back to 1990, and includes drawn-out negotiations and several lawsuits.
The initial decision was a big blow for Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who had decided to take Florida’s case directly to the U.S. Supreme Court and announced the lawsuit in the town of Apalachicola with great fanfare. Jackie Schutz, a spokeswoman for Scott, said the governor’s office was reviewing the report by the special master but did not offer any comments beyond that.
In the past few weeks Scott has been forced to defend the lawsuit because the state’s legal fees in the complicated case have been rapidly mounting. The state has spent more than $41 million in the past 18 months alone, an amount that Republicans in charge of the Florida House say is too much.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said he was “incredibly pleased” by Lancaster’s conclusion.
“Georgia remains committed to the conservation efforts that make us amicable stewards of our water,” he said in a statement. “We are encouraged by this outcome which puts us closer to finding a resolution to a decades-long dispute over the use

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Rick Scott not bothered by Jon Steverson’s departure

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Gov. Rick Scott suggested he wasn’t bothered by one of his agency heads overseeing the flow of millions of dollars to a law firm that he’s now going to work for.
Scott spoke to reporters after Tuesday’s Florida Cabinet meeting.
“We have people that come to work for the state and they work hard,” Scott told reporters. “And (then) they find opportunities. That’s just part of the process.”
Jon Steverson, secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, quit last Friday, reportedly for a job at the Foley & Lardner law firm, according to a Scott spokesman. The firm still has not publicly confirmed the hire.
Foley & Lardner also is one of the firms representing the state in a nearly two-decades-old court fight with Georgia over river water use.
The dispute centers around upstream water use from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers in Georgia. They meet at the Florida border to form the Apalachicola River, which empties into the Apalachicola Bay.
Steverson’s department is asking the Legislature for $13 million more to pay expected legal bills from the still-unresolved case. A joint committee is scheduled to take up the request later Tuesday.
But House Speaker Richard Corcoran on Monday night said his chamber won’t entertain the request without a detailed audit of how DEP officials spent legal money already appropriated.
The governor said he’s “appreciative of the people that are willing to come work with me … I know they work really hard. But when they have opportunities, they ought to go pursue them.”
Scott also defended the costs of the litigation, now approaching $100 million.
As The Associated Press has explained: “Florida blames rapid growth in metropolitan Atlanta and agriculture in south Georgia for causing low river flows that have imperiled fisheries dependent on fresh water entering the area. Georgia has argued that Florida didn’t prove its water use is to blame for the low flows and says a cap

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