Alabama wins water war

by Keith Loria |
Jul. 21, 2009, 12:41pm


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - After a 19-year legal battle, the State of Alabama has prevailed in a lawsuit stopping Georgia from what it says was excessive and unauthorized use of water from Atlanta's Lake Lanier.

Alabama Attorney General Troy King called Monday's ruling by Judge Paul John Magnuson of U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, Fla., a vindication of Alabama's position in the litigation.

"After 19 years, Alabama has finally achieved a legal victory in this case, one that has regrettably not been able to be resolved at the negotiating table by the states' governors," King said. "With this legal victory for Alabama, perhaps a renewed spirit of cooperation can be achieved."

The long-lasting lawsuit resulted from the State of Alabama challenging Atlanta's increasing withdrawals of water from Lake Lanier for its water supply, claiming it was not an authorized purpose under federal law and that the withdrawals were illegal.

The court ruled in Alabama's favor, detailing that when federal funds were appropriated to build Lake Lanier, the specifically authorized purposes were hydropower, flood control and navigation. Water supply was not an authorized purpose.

According to the ruling, if within the next three years Georgia has not obtained Congressional approval for its practices, the allowed levels of water to be withdrawn will revert back to the levels of the mid-1970s.

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