From: News Service of Florida
As Florida and Georgia try to settle a complicated water-use dispute this month, Alabama has filed a letter saying it may need to intervene if its water resources are impacted. Ralph Lancaster, a Portland, Maine, lawyer who was appointed a special master in the case by the U.S. Supreme Court, has given Florida and Georgia until Jan. 24 to reach a settlement in the case. As part of his order, Lancaster suggested the states consider the importation of water from outside the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin during times of drought.
Alabama, which has not been party in the case but has filed friend-of-the-court briefs, said its position would change if the settlement involves waterways in its state. “If this case’s scope were expanded to include the possibility of a decree authorizing inter-basin transfers from rivers flowing into Alabama, Alabama’s interests in the case would be different,” a lawyer for the state said in a Jan. 11 letter. Alabama said it does not believe the interstate transfer of water should be part of the case, but if it is, Alabama said it wants to be part of the negotiations. “To this end, Alabama is willing to participate in any negotiations between Florida and Georgia that address this issue, and will separately ask Florida and Georgia to include Alabama in any such negotiations,” Alabama said in its letter. Florida filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court in 2013, alleging Georgia diverts too much water from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint system and that the diversions have damaged Apalachicola Bay and Franklin County’s seafood industry.