BRADENTON, Fla. — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal applauded Monday's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to have Department of Justice Solicitor General Donald Verrilli file a brief in the so-called water wars case.
The high court asked Verrilli to express the views of the United States in the ongoing feud between Florida and Georgia over fresh water rights.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott submitted a request Oct. 1 asking the Supreme Court for an injunction to stop Georgia's "unchecked and growing consumption of water," which threatens marine life downstream, Scott's petition said.
The Supreme Court did not rule on Scott's filing on Monday.
Florida and Alabama have initiated or participated in a number of legal actions regarding Georgia's water rights over the past two decades.
"Florida's previous unsuccessful lawsuits cost both states millions of dollars and obstructed meaningful natural resource planning for more than 20 years," Deal said in a statement. "After more than two decades, we are finally on the verge of having the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers formally update water control manuals, which will [determine] how best to operate the federal reservoirs to the benefit of upstream and downstream communities alike."
Deal went on to say that Florida is once again trying to circumvent the process most recently established by the court in 2011. A ruling from the case that year ordered the Corps to update the manuals governing the uses and drinking water withdrawals in federal waters such as the main reservoir serving the Atlanta region and the interstate waters of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, or ACF Basin.
"The Supreme Court's decision to look carefully into this matter before granting Florida's motion is good news for Georgians," Deal said. "I am hopeful that Solicitor General Verrilli will agree that at a minimum the water control manuals be updated first."
Scott did not issue a statement about the Supreme Court's action on Monday, and has been tied up this week with opening of the 2014 legislative session.
When the state's lawsuit was filed in October, Scott said Georgia has refused to "fairly" share the water that flows between the states, threatening the existence of Apalachicola Bay, its oyster beds, and the future economic development of north Florida.
Scott said filing suit was the only way to conquer two decades of failed negotiations between the states over water rights.