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Rep. Dunn Files Legislation To Challenge Georgia's Water Use

Jessica Palombo

North Florida Congressman Neal Dunn wants to throw out a federal plan that would reduce freshwater flowing into the struggling Apalachicola Bay. The move comes after a Supreme Court-appointed lawyer ruled against the state in the decades-long water war with Georgia. The Court has not yet made a final ruling. But Dunn and his colleagues are going back to the legislative drawing board to challenge the Army Corps of Engineers.

Credit Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

“With my friend and fellow congressman Al Lawson I have introduced legislation to nullify the newest water control manual and send it back to the Corps for rewriting," Dunn said.

Florida suffered a blow earlier this month when Supreme Court Special Master Ralph Lancaster ruled against the state's interest. Lancaster says the state didn't adequately prove what's at the heart of the bay's struggle: drought, over-harvesting, or the water use regulations set by the Army Corps of Engineers.

"Florida has not met its requirement to show by clear and convincing evidence that its injury can be redressed by increased flows during non-drought conditions," Lancaster wrote.

The Corps decides how much water flows to the Atlanta Metro area, South Georgia farms, and ultimately Apalachicola Bay. The agency’s newest plan allows Georgia to divert even more water, which Florida says will devastate the bay. But because the Corps isn't a party in the lawsuit before the Supreme Court, the justices can't order the agency to change its water use plan. 

But Dunn hopes he and the Florida delegation will be able to do just that. The Corps is in the process of updating its water control manual, which would allow Georgia to divert more than 600 million gallons of water per day, up from its current consumption of 405 million gallons per day.

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As a Tallahassee native, Kate Payne grew up listening to WFSU. She loves being part of a station that had such an impact on her. Kate is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts. With a background in documentary and narrative filmmaking, Kate has a broad range of multimedia experience. When she’s not working, you can find her rock climbing, cooking or hanging out with her cat.