BRADENTON, Fla. A grassroots group that formed to resolve what litigation and politics could not is asking Florida Gov. Rick Scott to delay further legal action against Georgia over water use in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin.
The nonprofit ACF Stakeholders Inc., incorporated in 2009, made the request Oct. 3 during a meeting at Georgia’s Unicoi State Park, according to the Gainesville Times.
The group passed a resolution that said it worked for the past four years to develop a water-sharing plan in a collaborative process, and expects to complete studies in June 2014 that will propose “sustainable water management solutions,” the newspaper said.
At stake is the freshwater supply that serves humans and marine life, including oysters harvested in Florida’s Apalachicola Bay, in the ACF watershed that begins in the southern Appalachian Mountains and ends in the Gulf of Mexico.
The basin serves Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, which have pursued litigation for decades over the water-sharing issue.
Florida filed a lawsuit Oct. 1 seeking an injunction from the U.S. Supreme Court claiming that the state “has exhausted all other reasonable means to arrest Georgia’s unchecked use of water and halt the continuing degradation of the Apalachicola Region,” the complaint said.
Georgia’s municipal, industrial, recreational, and agricultural uses of ACF Basin, including upstream storage using reservoirs, “precipitated a collapse of Florida’s oyster fishery,” said the suit. The federal government declared a disaster declaration for the oyster fishery recently.
Florida is asking the Supreme Court to apportion water usage.
The members of ACF Stakeholders are from cities, counties, industries and businesses, and include fishermen, farmers and historic, cultural, environmental, conservation, and recreation groups in all three states, according to its website.
“Their mission is to achieve equitable water-sharing solutions among stakeholders that balance economic, ecological, and social values, while ensuring sustainability for current and future generations,” the website said.