At the Headwaters of Sustainable WaterManagement in Georgia Gil Rogers Southern Environmental Law Center July 26, 2012
Overview• Tri-State Water Wars – history and current status• State of Georgia’s water management
Tri-State Water Wars
Tri-State Water Wars• Litigation began in 1990 when Alabama sued the Army Corps of Engineers• Georgia, Florida, various local governments, hydropower customers and Alabama Power all got involved.• At issue is Corps’ management of ACF and ACT systems, and whether Lakes Allatoona and Lanier can be used for water supply by metro Atlanta.• District Court said “no” to second question in 2009, overturned by 11th Circuit in 2011; Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in June 2012.
Legal Option for Future Interstate Litigation: Supreme Court Litigation• Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in controversies between states• Alabama and Florida will have to show direct interest and negative impacts for Supreme Court to accept case• If the Supreme Court agrees and accepts case, Georgia has to show benefits of its water use outweigh harm to FL and AL• Standard that GA will have to meet is clear and convincing evidence
Future Interstate Litigation• Question the Supreme Court would answer is: How well is each state managing its water resources? Who has their house in order?• Corps will be revising its water control manuals over the next year: more fodder for litigation.• Other statutes in play include Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act
South Carolina v. North Carolina – recently in U.S. Supreme CourtTransfer proposed between Catawba and Yadkin Basins
Water Management in Georgia• Water withdrawals over 100,000 gallons per day require a permit from EPD – “regulated riparian” system• 2008 State Water Plan• 2010 Water Stewardship Act• 2011 Interbasin Transfer Rules
• Created in 2001 pursuant to the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District Act.• 15 county area• No interbasin transfers into the District.
Source: Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District Water Supply and Water Conservation Management Plan, September
Interbasin Transfers in Georgia• 2011 rulemaking for interbasin transfer water withdrawal permits• List of 22 factors to be considered when evaluating proposals• Factors include economic costs, water quality impacts, interstate impacts, and cumulative impacts
Conclusions• Water resources and population centers are separated in Georgia.• Must evaluate growth areas and patterns in order to insure sustainable future.• Energy sources and their water use/discharge practices are important pieces of the puzzle.