The U.S. Supreme Court this week appointed a Maine attorney to serve as a special master in a long-running legal battle between Florida and Georgia about the amount of freshwater flowing into Apalachicola Bay. The Supreme Court said early this month it would take up a lawsuit filed by Florida against Georgia. The court Wednesday appointed Maine attorney Ralph I. Lancaster Jr. to serve as a special master who will call witnesses, issue subpoenas, take evidence and submit reports to the Supreme Court. Lancaster’s law firm, Pierce Atwood LLP, said on its website that the case is the fourth time Lancaster has been appointed a special master by the Supreme Court. SCOTUSblog, an online site that closely covers the Supreme Court, said Lancaster will propose a ruling to justices. “It usually takes several years for such cases to develop, under the control of a special master,” the post on SCOTUSblog said. “The special master does not have the authority to rule, but only to recommend outcomes to the justices.” The dispute, which has involved more than two decades of litigation, focuses on a system of water that flows into the Apalachicola River from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers in Georgia. Ultimately, the water flows downstream to Apalachicola Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. Florida has long contended that Georgia takes too much water from the Chattahoochee to meet the demands of the Atlanta area.