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Legal costs soar in water war with Georgia

January 24th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

In the last three years, the State of Florida has spent 41 million dollars on outside legal fees fighting the state of Georgia over water and the lack of it flowing into Apalachicola Bay. Another six point two million was spent on expert witnesses.  The Department of Environmental Protection is asking for 17 million more, but lawmakers are balking.

Since 2001, Florida has spent 72 million dollars fighting Georgia and Alabama over the fresh water that flows from this damn north of Atlanta to the ouster beds in Apalachicola.

“It’s highly complex specialized litigation” says Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Legal Costs have skyrockets since 2015. that’s when the state filed a new lawsuit and the Attorney General opted to use outside law firms because of the cases complexities.

“And they are doing an excellent job” says the Attorney General, asking and answering “Are the fees astronomical? Absolutely, but this is money that is owed to them.”

The legal bills are being paid by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Water Cost00000010Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater) says the suit is important, but “Whether it has been properly monitored is the question.” Latvala believes it has not been properly monitored.

When asked,, Governor Rick Scott pointed out how important adequate fresh water is to the people who make their living on Apalachicola Bay.

“Unfortunately, the only way we’re going to get is resolved is going to the Supreme Court” says Scott. “It’s important to our state. The flow of water into our state is very important.”Water Cost00000009

Everyone here  says, yes, the payments were excessive, but no one is saying they weren’t necessary, and the question is, what happens next?”

House Budget Chairman Carlos Trujillo says lawmakers are still looking for an answer.

Q:”How did it get so out of hand“ we asked.

“We’re still in the process of figuring that out” says the budget chairman. Water Cost00000011

DEP has been asking for another 17 million dollars to fund the lawsuit for the rest of this year. right now, that is on hold.

Today was the deadline for the Florida and Georgia to submit proposals to a special master hearing the case for the US Supreme Court. The two states made their case in a weeklong hearing in December.

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