The U.S. Justice Department has filed a brief opposing Georgia’s request for review by the U.S. Supreme Court of a key decision in the water war litigation.
Earlier this year, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington declared illegal a settlement agreement between Georgia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would have reallocated a significant portion of Lake Lanier for Atlanta’s water supply.
The appellate court ruled that such a major operational change at Lake Lanier could not be undertaken without congressional approval.
That appellate decision represented a critical victory for Alabama and Florida in the 18-year old water war litigation.
Georgia had based its future water supply plans for Atlanta on the illegal settlement agreement.
In August, Georgia filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the appellate court’s decision.
The U.S. Justice Department late last week notified the Supreme Court that the federal government opposes any further review of the decision.
In other words, the federal government believes that the ruling in Alabama and Florida’s favor should stand.
In its brief to the Supreme Court, the Justice Department described as “incorrect” Georgia’s contention that Alabama and Florida lacked standing to challenge the illegal settlement agreement.
The Justice Department also stated that the appellate court’s decision “does not present a question of substantial importance requiring [the Supreme Court’s] review.”
“The federal government has accepted the appellate court’s ruling that the secret agreement between Georgia and the Corps of Engineers was illegal, and it’s about time for Georgia to accept it as well,” said Alabama Governor Bob Riley.
“The three states’ resources would be much better spent attempting to reach a negotiated solution, now that we know what the law requires. At some point, Georgia has to face reality.”
Governor Riley also said, “The appellate court’s ruling has significance far beyond this single case. The same law that caused the appellate court to invalidate Atlanta’s future water supply plans should compel the other courts handling the water war litigation to rule that Atlanta’s current water supply withdrawals are illegal.”