Florida v. Georgia

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: October 10, 2017
  • Case #: 142, Original
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ralph I. Lancaster, Jr.
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the Special Master erred by requiring Florida to establish by a “guarantee” standard that imposition of a consumption cap on Georgia’s water use from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin (ACF Basin) would not be offset by the operations of dams and reservoirs within the ACF Basin by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Court granted Petitioner leave to bring an original action against the Respondent in a dispute regarding the equitable apportionment of water from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin (ACF Basin) and appointed a Special Master to oversee the proceedings.  The ACF Basin provides water to Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. The Army Corps of Engineers operate five congressionally authorized dams within the basin. Petitioner asserted that Respondent’s storage and usage exceeded the amount allowable under a 1992 Memorandum of Agreement and requested a usage cap. The Special Master’s report concluded that Petitioner failed to show that the court could provide redress because the imposition of a usage cap on Respondent could not guarantee increased minimum flow of water to Petitioner. The Special Master determined that Petitioner could not prove that a usage cap would necessarily increase downstream flow-through rates due to the Army Corps of Engineers’ operation of dams within the ACF Basin. Further, because the Corps of Engineers is not a party to the suit and is bound by congressional authorization, not the decree of the court, the Special Master found that relief could not be assured by a judgment of the court. In their petition for certiorari, Petitioner asserts that the Special Master erred by applying the wrong guarantee standard when Petitioner need only show a likelihood that redress could derive from a decree in their favor.

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