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Water Wars Trial Begins In Maine

November 1st, 2016 by Mike Vasilinda

A decade’s long dispute over who has the rights to the water that ends up in Apalachicola Florida is being heard by a special master for the US Supreme Court today. At stake, as Mike Vasilinda tells us, is the future of one of the most important estuaries in the state of Florida.

War wars have long been a topic for western movies

Nat sot of movie “riders of destiny”

“is that the old creek bed? asked John Wayne in Riders of Destiny, released in 1934. Yeah. When I first come here it was running water to every ranch in the valley, then it dried up” replied one of the B characters in the movie.

But the water war between Florida, Georgia, and Alabama is real. As Atlanta grows, it is demanding more and more water…which comes from here, Lake Lanier and the Buford Dam.

This is where the water leaves Georgia, heading for Florida.

And it is the fresh water that leaves here that eventually flows into Apalachicola Bay. The less fresh water, the more salt water predators invade and destroy once lush oyster beds. Shawn Hartsfield the President of the Apalachicola Seafood Workers Assn. says life on the coast is changing.

“You know, we’re not going to have the fishing industry we used to have” says Hartsfield.

Rick Scott asked the US Supreme Court to settle the battle for water three years ago.

“We’ve got to get the water flowing down the river an into the bay if we want to continue to have the lively hood we had” says the Governor.

Environmental attorney David Guest says saving the bay is critical.

“You’re pitting uncontrolled growth and uncontrolled agriculture against a delicate and irreplaceable ecosystem famous the world over.”

Georgia’s positions that it owns the water and gets first crack at using it, much like one of the characters in Riders of Destiny. “Boys turn off the water. Guard my dam and if anyone sets foot on my land, shoot.No one is shooting over water these days, but the US Supreme Court will eventually settle the question. Neither side is likely going to get all that it wants…which is all the water it can use.

The drop in oyster production has help drive up the retail price for oysters across Florida. The trial could takes weeks, then several months before a recommendation is made, and a year or more before the US Supreme Court hears the case.

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