Mediation an Unlikely Solution in Georgia-Florida Water Dispute
Wednesday, June, 29, 2016
The seemingly never-ending legal battle between Florida and Georgia over water issues involving the sharing of the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers is likely headed to court again. Attorneys for both sides assume the trial will occur in Washington in late fall and likely last for at least two months.
The trial would be another milestone in the nearly 30 year battle over equitably apportioning the rivers. State officials and the governors from both states are hoping mediation could prevent another trip to court, but so far, talks between the two states have failed to reach a resolution.
According to the attorney for Florida, the state is committed to mediation and hopes a mediator will be successful in helping both sides identify potential solutions that satisfy everyone involved. Successful mediation would end a nearly three decade deadlock in the case.
Mediator Ralph Lancaster has admonished both states to solve the dispute through mediation, or face consequence out of their control. Mediation allows everyone to have a say and play a role in the outcome, but court could leave everyone involved unhappy with the final decision.
In the matter, Florida is accusing Georgia of hoarding too much water. A 2009 federal court ruling determined Georgia was taking too much water from Lake Lanier, but two years later an appeals court overruled that decision. Appeals by both sides continued until the matter reached the US Supreme Court, which agreed to hear Florida’s lawsuit that would cap the amount of water Georgia takes from the Flint and Chattahoochee – the current issue in debate.