Florida appeals ruling over shared water supply with Alabama, Georgia

Tallahassee, FL – Florida and Alabama are appealing the latest ruling in the tri-state water wars. The states say the ruling which reinstates Georgia's right to use the shared water supply will take away too much of their water, but Regan McCarthy reports Georgia says the amount it uses is negligible.

Georgia, Alabama and Florida are locked in a debate over how much water each state should be allowed to use from a supply that runs into Florida's Apalachicola River and Bay. Dan Tonsmeire, the executive director of the environmental group Apalachicola River keepers says without proper studies to measure how much water can be sustainably withdrawn Florida's wildlife and seafood industry stand to suffer.

"During the drought of 2007 was a loss of about 80-percent of the oyster bars. The first harvest the shrimp harvest were all knocked way back during the drought. So if we don't get a grasp on how much water is needed to sustain these ecosystems during this dry and drought period so we limit the withdraws out of the system we have all of that at risk."

But Bruce Brown who is representing the state of Georgia in the case says the amount of water Georgia is drawing just isn't that much.

"Even if you cut off Atlanta entirely and decided that the oyster business was worth more than the city of Atlanta, which I don't think Florida believes, or anybody else believes, even if you cut it off entirely, Florida would not receive a noticeable increase in water. You could not measure it."

Brown says Atlanta depends on the shared water. He says judges have already ruled on Georgia's side on issues questioning the state's right to use the supply. Florida is involved in a separate suit over whether the Army Corps of engineers management of the reservoir is affecting endangered wildlife in the Apalachicola bay area.