By David Pendered
Florida filed a lawsuit against Georgia in the U.S. Supreme Court after years of negotiations failed to resolve disputes over Georgia’s consumption of water from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basin.
The hearing began Monday in a federal courthouse in Washington. Lawyers for both sides expect to take up to six weeks to present their evidence.
The special master will consider the facts and make a non-binding recommendation to the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. The court will consider the recommendation and deliver a ruling, probably in 2017.
Here are highlights of the process to date:
Nov. 3, 2014 – Florida files a lawsuit against Georgia in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Nov. 19, 2014 – The Supreme Court names a special master to hear the case, Ralph Lancaster, of Portland, Me.
April 8, 2015 – Lancaster asks Florida and Georgia if Alabama needs to be a party in the case; subsequently, Alabama is not named as a party.
April 13, 2015 – Lancaster issues an order granting confidentiality to negotiations between Florida and Georgia.
June 19, 2015 – Lancaster rejects Georgia’s motion to dismiss the case.
Jan. 8, 2016 – Georgia contends it cannot produce emails demanded by Florida of three former executive directors of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Lancaster subsequently overrules Florida’s objection to the lost emails.
June 20, 2016 – Lancaster sets the hearing to begin Oct. 31. Hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with necessary breaks, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse.
Oct. 31, 2016 – The hearing begins.