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Supreme Court Sets February Date for Florida-Georgia Water Clash

Dec. 31, 2020, 4:25 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in February in the latest round of a long-running brawl between Florida and Georgia over how to divvy up water from a shared basin.

The court released its latest argument schedule Thursday, setting Florida v. Georgia for Feb. 22, marking the dispute’s second time landing before the justices.

The case is an original jurisdiction proceeding, a rare type of dispute that goes straight to the Supreme Court rather than working through lower benches first. The conflict, on the high court’s docket since 2013, involves whether Georgia should be required to cap usage in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin so more water flows downstream to Florida and its oyster industry.

A special master—appointed to oversee daily proceedings in original jurisdiction cases—recommended resolving the case in Georgia’s favor in 2017. The justices heard arguments the following year and said the official applied too strict a legal standard.

A new special master took on the case and issued another favorable recommended ruling for Georgia last year. Florida is again asking the Supreme Court to reject the conclusions.

The justices resolved another water dispute, Texas v. New Mexico, earlier this term. Environmental law scholars say similar disputes are poised to multiply at the high court as climate change stresses water resources.

The case is Florida v. Georgia, U.S., No. 22O142, 12/31/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at egilmer@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chuck McCutcheon at cmccutcheon@bloombergindustry.com

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