BRADENTON, Fla. — A lawsuit that Florida wants to file against Georgia in the complex battle over water rights between the states "falls well short" of the standard to be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to Georgia's attorneys.
Florida's complaint is "extraordinarily weak" and is premature, at best, because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the process of updating studies and master control manuals that including operating protocols for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Basin, attorneys for the Peach state said Jan. 31 in response to the proposed suit.
"Florida has brought its case against the wrong party, in the wrong court, and at the wrong time," attorneys claimed.
In October, Florida filed a motion asking the Supreme Court for permission to file a complaint against Georgia "to equitably apportion the waters of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin," a critical system where water flows from northern Georgia to Florida and Alabama.
Florida said it has "exhausted all other reasonable means to arrest Georgia's unchecked use of water and halt the continuing degradation of the Apalachicola Region," where oyster beds have suffered from drought and dwindling water supply.
Such a suit would bypass a process already established by a lower court that orders the Corps' study and operational update, Georgia's response said.
"Only after the Corps adopts a new master manual will it be possible to determine whether (1) the injuries that Florida seeks to prevent may actually come to pass, and (2) those injuries are caused by Georgia's water use," Georgia's attorneys said. "An original action in this court at this stage would disrupt that entire process and would proceed in a vacuum."
Georgia's attorneys also said that Florida has not alleged an injury sufficient to warrant the court's attention, and that the state's proposed complaint "fails to make out a plausible case that Georgia's consumption is causing significantly reduced flows at the state line."
There must be clear and convincing evidence for a state to allege that it has suffered a substantial injury, attorneys for Georgia said, adding, "Florida's complaint gives barely a hint that its citizens are suffering any injury caused by a supposedly reduced flow into the Apalachicola much less that any such injury is attributable to Georgia."
"At bottom, this is not a case that calls for this court to exercise its extraordinary power to entertain a lawsuit between states," Georgia said asking the Supreme Court to deny Florida's request to file a complaint.