Water Scarcity Challenges Headed To Supreme Court

 By E. Lynn Grayson, Partner, Jenner & Block

Three petitions have been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a review of a recent 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allocate additional water from Lake Lanier to meet Atlanta's growing water supply needs. Lake Lanier provides three-fourths of the drinking water for Atlanta. These actions continue the "water wars" litigation between Alabama, Florida and Georgia over the allocation of water resources in this area of the United States.

At issue in these petitions are long term, continuing conflicts over how the Corps manages its projects in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin. In particular, ongoing disputes have focused on the Corps' management of its four Chattahoochee River dams, including the Buford Dam, that creates Lake Lanier.

The petitioners are in agreement that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling should be overturned citing its failure to recognize that only Congress has the authority to reallocate water stored in Lake Lanier as well as the fact that this latest decision overlooks existing case law to the contrary, some of which relates to the very subject matter at issue here.

These petitions are a reminder of the growing significance over water resources management in the U.S. today. While many view water resources to be abundant and readily available, water scarcity is a reality for many areas right now and these challenges are increasing with population growth and climate change-related impacts.

The 11th Circuit ruling in In re MDL-1824 Tri State Water Rights Litigation is available for a free download.

Lexis.com subscribers can access the Lexis enhanced version of the decision with summary, headnotes, and Shepard's, Florida v. United States Army Corps Eng'r (In re MDL-1824 Tri-State Water Rights Litig.), 644 F.3d 1160 (11th Cir. Fla. 2011).

E. Lynn Grayson is a partner in Jenner & Block's Chicago office and a member of the Firm's Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources Law, Climate and Clean Technology Law, Defense & Aerospace and Environmental Litigation Practices. Ms. Grayson is AV Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell's highest peer recognition for ethical standards and legal ability. Ms. Grayson has been recognized as one of The Best Lawyers in America, an Illinois Super Lawyer and Lawdragon magazine named Ms. Grayson to its "New Stars, New Worlds" list of 500 attorneys who are "carving the path to the new heights of the legal profession." Chambers USA and Leading Lawyers Network have recognized Ms. Grayson as one of the country's leading environmental lawyers as recommended by a peer review process.

Read more at Corporate Environmental Lawyer Blog by Jenner & Block LLP.

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