APALACHICOLA, Fla. — Gov. Rick Scott, saying it’s time to fight for the economic future of the Apalachicola Bay region, announced Tuesday that Florida will file a lawsuit against Georgia over its consumption of freshwater in a river system that serves three Southeastern states.
The decision by Florida’s governor to proceed with a lawsuit directly against Georgia is an escalation in a legal dispute lasting more than two decades.
Scott charged that Georgia has been unwilling to come up with a reasonable approach to sharing water that flows downstream from Georgia into Alabama and Florida.
His move comes as the region’s oyster industry has suffered a near collapse and a day after federal officials declared a fishery disaster for oystermen in the Gulf Coast. Oysters need a mix of both fresh and salt water in order to thrive.
“They’ve not negotiated in good faith; they’ve kept our water,” said Scott, adding Alabama has not decided if it would join in the suit.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal reacted harshly to Scott’s announcement, saying it was “absurd to waste taxpayers money and prolong this process with a court battle.” He said Georgia offered up a framework for an agreement more than a year ago. But he also predicted that Georgia would ultimately win in court.