In our previous post, we began looking at a water dispute involve the states of Florida and Georgia, which is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue in the case is the state of Florida’s accusations that Georgia’s water use is having negative effects on water availability downstream.
As we noted, the specific issue is whether a cap on Georgia’s water use should be granted, and there isn’t much room in the case for working out a mutually acceptable solution. The solution the state of Florida wants is not something the state of Georgia wants, and vice versa. It’s an all or nothing type of situation, which means it is unlikely to lead to long-term resolution of the problem, even if it establishes a clear legal ruling on capping water use.
In some legal disputes, and this can include including environmental cases, litigation is not always the best solution to the problem. In some cases, seeking a resolution outside the court system is preferable. One possibility for doing this is mediation, which involves working with a neutral individual, in the context of confidentiality, to come up with a solution to the problem.
There are different styles of mediation, and each mediator has his or her own approach, as well as his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Some types of mediation focus on examining the strength of the legal arguments in the case, and on who would win if the case went to court. Other approaches focus more on helping parties to establish better communication between the parties.
In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this topic, and the role of an experienced advocate in the mediation process.