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Jul. 2, 2020
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Another brief delay granted in water lawsuit

By Jane Harrison 
 
The brief delay granted last month by a court official should not affect the potential scheduling of Supreme Court oral arguments in the seven-year Florida v. Georgia water rights case. This according to Georgia attorney Craig S. Primis, who requested Special Master Paul J. Kelly give Georgia extra time to respond to Florida’s criticism of Kelly’s January report.
 
Kelly recommended that Supreme Court justices drop the lawsuit in which Florida alleges Georgia consumes more than its share of water in a river system that flows from the Georgia mountains into the Florida Panhandle. Lake Lanier is the largest reservoir on the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system. However, Florida attorneys did not so much target the North Georgia lake, the major metro-Atlanta water supplier and economic engine for the region. Instead, they blamed Georgia agricultural water use on the Flint River for low flows downstream. Georgia farmers tap more water than any other entity in the state.
 
Kelly’s report, which may form the basis for a Supreme Court decision, deemed Georgia’s water use “reasonable.” He cited evidence that the cost to Georgia of limiting water consumption would be greater than the benefit of potential additional flow into Florida.
 
In May, Florida attorneys blasted Kelly’s report, accusing him of making short shrift of their appeal to save a perishing way of life in Apalachicola Bay. Florida blames Georgia for low flows on the river that feeds oyster fisheries, a diverse ecology, and the bay’s economy.
 
Georgia’s response to Florida’s criticisms, originally due June 12, was postponed to June 26, after Lakeside’s July edition deadline. Primis asked for an extra two weeks due to the coronavirus shutdown.
 
“The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting state shutdowns have caused difficulties and delays that have affected Georgia’s ability to meaningfully confer with counsel and prepare a timely reply.

Moreover, granting this modest, two-week extension would not affect the calendaring of this case for oral argument next term should the Court decide to set this case for oral argument,” the request says.
Kelly amended due Georgia’s due date and pushed the deadline for Florida’s sur-reply to July 27. 


Psoted online 6.26.20
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