The 11th Circuit Appeals Court released a unanimous ruling yesterday (Tuesday, June 28) that held that one of the purposes for Lake Lanier was to supply water to the metro-Atlanta region. This ruling overturns a 2009 decision by Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson that ruled it was illegal for the Corps of Engineers to draw water from Lake Lanier for this purpose.
“This is a critically important decision for not only the metro Atlanta region, but the entire state,” said ACCG Executive Director Ross King. “While this issue is far from settled, it provides a more fair position from which to further the negotiations on the use of water resources that are shared with Alabama and Florida.”
The Magnuson ruling also had established a deadline of July 2012 for Georgia, Alabama and Florida to come to an agreement on how to share the water. If a deadline could not be reached by this time, Atlanta would only be able to withdraw the amount of water that it received in the mid-1970s. The Appeals Court ruling extends this deadline by one year and directs the Corps of Engineers to make a final determination on water allocation from Lake Lanier.
Governor Nathan Deal’s office has released the following statement about the ruling: “The office of Gov. Nathan Deal is rapidly reviewing the decision of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on our water case, but at first glance it appears that the state of Georgia has won a great victory. The 11th Circuit panel has ruled unanimously that Lake Lanier was built for the purpose of water supply for the metro Atlanta area. This means that the Lake will continue to be available to meet Georgia's needs. The governor remains committed to working with Alabama and Florida towards a fair agreement regarding the sharing of water in the ACF and ACT Basins.”
Atlanta Journal Constitution: 11th Circuit Hands Georgia Victory in Water Wars Case
Associated Press: U.S. Court Tosses Water Restriction on Metro Atlanta