TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - A special master appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court has given Florida and Georgia a January 24th deadline, "to reach a framework for settlement" of a contentious legal fight over water rights.
During a two-month trial in Portland, Maine that ended in early December, Florida asserted Georgia's over-consumption of water had reduced freshwater flows from the top of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, near Metro Atlanta, to the Florida Panhandle.
If the two states cannot come to a compromise Special Master Ralph Lancaster is expected to issue his recommendation in the case. Apalachicola River Keeper Dan Tonsmeire assumes that is what will happen.
"Hopefully he got the nuances and the complexities of it, and can make a good decision that will help Florida without jeopardizing the economy of Georgia. I think it is all very possible," said Tonsmeire.
The final decision will culminate a case that began in 2013 when Florida filed the lawsuit. The Apalachicola Bay collapsed in 2012 after a series of droughts and low flows, devastating the local seafood industry.