Riverkeeper Responds To Supreme Court DecisionMarty Bowden
Posted by: Marty Bowden
Date: Jul 02 2012 2:05 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Shannon Lease, Deputy Director
850-653-8936 or Shannon@apalachicolariverkeeper.org
Riverkeeper Responds to Supreme Court Decision
APALACHICOLA, FL (June 29, 2012) - The Apalachicola Riverkeeper’s executive director, Dan Tonsmeire, not only keeps a watchful eye over the river itself, but everything that affects it—including Supreme Court decisions.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up an appeal filed by Florida in the case involving the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system. Both the Apalachicola Riverkeeper and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) warn that the decision not to hear Florida’s request to review an 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is likely to have a negative impact on the Apalachicola River and Bay.
The water dispute between Alabama, Florida, and Georgia has been taking place in federal court since 1990. Alabama and Georgia want water for industry and growing cities, while Florida needs water for fish and wildlife along the Apalachicola River and to support the seafood industry in Apalachicola Bay.
Lake Lanier, a federal reservoir on the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta, Georgia, has been the focus of the dispute because it provides 60 percent of the storage capacity among the reservoirs on the river system. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson in 2009 ruled that Congress must authorize Lake Lanier to provide water to Georgia cities. Without authorization, he ordered that water use be cut off in three years. But the 11th Circuit overturned the decision and instead directed the Corps of Engineers to analyze its authority related to the Lake Lanier. Florida and Alabama in February asked the Supreme Court to review the case.
“I’m disappointed by the decision,” Tonsmeire said, “but I’m also reminded how vital our work is. At least the Court’s decision will bring some resolution to the legal issues surrounding use of Lake Lanier for water supply,” Tonsmeire added. “Now that we’re out of the courtroom, we can focus on the next step—managing water to meet the needs of all users throughout the ACF (Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint) Basin because ultimately any lasting solution depends upon Georgia, Alabama, and Florida working together to reach a water sharing agreement.”
The ACF Stakeholders group have suggested that instead of new rounds of litigation, that everyone involved sit down together, and using the best available science, achieve a sustainable plan for how the water can best be managed throughout the entire ACF basin.
“Our organization is redoubling its efforts to protect this national treasure,” Tonsmeire said of the Apalachicola Riverkeeper group, “and we’re working hand in hand with the other ACF stakeholders in order to protect the entire basin. It’s too important not to. And we really need help to do it—donations and volunteers to help us fight the good fight for one of the most fragile and diverse ecosystems in our country.”
The Apalachicola Riverkeeper is a member-supported, non-profit organization that monitors the Apalachicola from the upper reaches at the Florida/Georgia line downstream into the Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. One of its primary missions is to ensure that the Apalachicola is guaranteed its fair share of the waters of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint watershed in perpetuity.
For more information or to contribute or volunteer, call 850-653-8936 or go to http://www.apalachicolariverkeeper.org .