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Georgia river faces significant challenges amidst water rights litigation, P.1

The Chattahoochee, that great river Alan Jackson crooned about, was recently listed as among the most endangered rivers in the nation. The finding was the result of an annual study by American Rivers. In its report, the nonprofit said the river basin and its native wildlife have suffered from years of mismanagement as well as excessive water use.

The report urged lawmakers in the three states through which the river runs—Alabama, Georgia, and Florida—to take action to ensure the sustainability of the river system, the survival of which is seriously threatened. Of particular concern is raising the river elevation in certain sections of the river. 

Ultimately, it is up to the Army Corps of Engineers to make revisions to its water control manual, which determines how federal projects in the river basin are to be adjusted under current river conditions and applicable law. Many factors contribute to proper water management, and it is important to get it right to ensure the health of the river system and to avoid harm to property and people.

One of the biggest challenges in setting water management policy is navigating the competing interests of states that make use of the river system. At present, the states of Florida and Georgia continue to be involved in litigation. At issue in the ongoing litigation is whether the state of Florida is entitled to stop the state of Georgia from preventing the flow of adequate fresh water into the Apalachicola Region. In our next post, we’ll look more at this dispute and what is at stake, as well as the issue of water pollution in general.


US Army Corp of Engineers, “ACF Master Water Control Manual Update,” Accessed April 13, 2016.

SCOTUSblog, Florida v. Georgia, Accessed April 13, 2016. 

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