Washington D.C. - (The News Service of Florida) In a victory for Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday sent the state’s “water war” with Georgia back to a special master for further consideration.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, said Special Master Ralph Lancaster used “too strict a standard” in recommending that Florida be denied relief in its long-running claim that over-consumption of water in Georgia is damaging the Apalachicola River and Apalachicola Bay.
“Our final question is this: Would the amount of extra water that reaches the Apalachicola significantly redress the economic and ecological harm that Florida has suffered? There is evidence indicating that the answer to the question is in the affirmative. … But the Master’s Report does not explicitly answer this question. We consequently must remand the case to find the answer to this question (and others),” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.
Gov. Rick Scott celebrated the ruling.
“Today’s ruling is a huge win for the entire state of Florida. As Governor, protecting the families whose livelihoods rely on the Apalachicola Bay has been a top priority. For nearly thirty years and under five governors, Florida has been fighting for its fair share of water from Georgia," Scott said. "After decades of failed negotiations, we took our historic action to protect families all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. I am glad that the court ruled in Florida’s favor today and we look forward to further securing a healthy Apalachicola Bay while protecting the thousands of jobs that depend on this natural resource. The best interest of these families will always come first.”
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