Water Crisis Has Florida vs Georgia in Supreme Court

No water no life
B. McPherson
Growing cities, agriculture, industry are all taking their toll on limited resources. Florida, Georgia and Alabama are locked in a decades long fight over water. Florida has now filed court action with the US Supreme Court over water use in Lake Sidney Lanier. Florida is claiming a foul in Atlanta’s continuing use of the lake water for the growing metropolis.

Lake Lanier was created in the ‘40s by damming the Chattahoochie River. It has become the largest lake in Georgia. The lake started filling in 1956. Since 1990 the three states have been squabble over water usage. In 2007 water usage by the Atlanta region had drawn the lake level down to record levels. It was not until 2008 that Georgia settled on their first water use plan.

At stake is the health of the oyster industry in Florida’s Apalachicola Bay which supplies the US with 10% of its fresh oysters. At least it did until recently. Starting in 2007 a steep decline led to a drastically reduced oyster harvest. The oysters in the bay are a sentinel species which means that if they aren’t thriving, many other creatures are not as well.

Oysters thrive in the shallow coastal waters of many oceans, but they have particular growing conditions. The mix of fresh and salty water must be right. The water temperature must be to the spat’s (immature swimming stage of the oyster) liking or they won’t adhere to a rock and will be lost.

Water and its usage are growing concerns for many places around the world. Arizona and Texas fight over it. The Rio Grande is sucked dry before it reaches the ocean. China has a massive water crisis which is a result of run away industrial pollution and population growth. That country is spending billions to divert water from the Yangtze River to northern parched areas.

Very late in the game, humanity seems to be learning that without water there is no life.

Water Webster is a good source for the chronology of water management of the Chattahoochie River.

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