Georgia-Florida water war trial could end this week

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Georgia-Florida water war trial could end this week

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Oystermen head out early from Eastpoint, Fla. for a day of fishing in the Apalachicola Bay. DAN CHAPMAN / DCHAPMAN@AJC.COM

The never-ending legal battle between Georgia and Florida over the waters of the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers is likely to reach a critical juncture this week after a month of testimony in the latest “water wars” trial.

Georgia is expected to wrap up its case by Friday ending the U.S. Supreme Court-sanctioned trial. The nation’s highest court appointed a “special master” to try and resolve the 27-year-old legal dispute with Florida accusing Georgia of hoarding water needed to sustain the Apalachicola Bay oyster industry and lush riverine ecosystem.

Georgia, which claims prudent stewardship of the Chattahoochee River, counters that Florida is to blame for the slow death of the oysters. It is expected to roll out ecological and economic experts this week to show how Metro Atlanta, in particular, conserves water and would suffer immense financial pain if Florida prevails.

If the trial ends this week, each side will likely submit final briefs within the next few weeks. Ralph Lancaster Jr., the no-nonsense master appointed by the Supreme Court, is expected to issue his recommendation to the high court early next year. Alabama, and various federal agencies, though, could also weigh in on the water wars.

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