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Ag Commissioner Fried on Water Wars Ruling

Dan Aquaculture, Florida, Water

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Apalachicola Bay Oyster Boats

(NSF) — After years of legal battling, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously rejected a lawsuit in which Florida argued Georgia has used too much water in a river system shared by the states.

The 12-page ruling dismissed the lawsuit that Florida filed in 2013 after the oyster fishery collapsed in Franklin County’s Apalachicola Bay.

Florida contended that Georgia drew too much water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system, which starts in northern Georgia and ends in Apalachicola Bay.

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Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote in Thursday’s ruling that Florida did not prove Georgia’s water use had caused damage in the bay and the Apalachicola River.

Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried, is disappointed by the ruling.

Fried on Water Wars Ruling

“We have significant damage that is happening to our oysters and to our gulf. Not allowing Georgia to take responsibility is a big disappointment for our state.”

Florida contended that Georgia farmers have used too much water to irrigate crops, causing downstream damage to the Apalachicola River and the bay.

But Georgia argued, in part, that the oyster industry sustained damage because of overharvesting after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster sent oil spreading through the Gulf of Mexico.

The Supreme Court ruling pointed to overharvesting as a key factor undercutting Florida’s arguments.

(From The News Service of Florida)