Editorial: Pouring it on — Thirsty Atlanta, Gulf Coast oysters and more water-war litigation
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Aug 15, 2013 | 2335 views |  0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama is leading the charge to limit metro Atlanta’s consumption of water and forestall the downstream consequences, or so it seems. Or maybe this page was just paying more attention to our state’s efforts to protect our threatened streams.

All Florida has is the little-ol’ Apalachicola River and Bay.

Alabama has the Coosa, Tallapoosa and Chattahoochee.

It’s apparent now that Florida was just biding its time; when the moment came, Florida was ready.

On Monday, the federal government designated the Apalachicola Bay a fisheries disaster because of the drought in previous years increased salinity and decreased downstream flow.

Even though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration did not take a position on metro Atlanta’s water use, we all know what has decreased the downstream flow, don’t we? (It’s best to think of it as a free-flowing spigot watering the lawns of thousands of suburban Atlanta McMansions.)

So, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday that he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court, which is constitutionally charged with settling disputes between states, to grant injunctive relief against Georgia’s water consumption because of the harm Georgia is doing to the Florida oyster industry.

This is not a tree-hugging environmentalist effort to protect an endangered species. The endangered species at the top of Gov. Scott’s list are the 2,500 oyster-industry workers who will be out of work and the multimillion-dollar industry that will disappear if Georgia’s consumption is not checked.

Alabama’s efforts to get the courts to force Georgia to obey the law and consume only the water the law allows did not impress the judges enough to get them to order a halt.

Maybe showing how what Scott called Georgia’s “unchecked consumption of water” threatens to not only destroy an ecosystem, but an industry as well, will cause the Supreme Court to order both the environment and the industry to be protected.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal was not pleased with a suit he called a “frivolous waste of time and money,” an interesting charge coming from the governor of a state that has been a litigation machine.

Both Deal and Scott have charged the other with not negotiating in good faith and, depending on how you define “good faith,” both are probably right. So the case goes back to the court.

Our biggest question surround Alabama: Will it join Florida in the suit? Gov. Robert Bentley has not said, but no one would be surprised if we do.

In the meantime, the bay that produces 90 percent of Florida’s oysters and 10 percent of the nation’s waits — along with three states and one very thirsty city.
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