Florida alleges that Georgia’s unrestrained water use during a recent drought helped lead to the collapse of its prized oyster industry downstream in the Apalachicola Bay in 2012. Georgia said it’s been a responsible water steward and that Florida’s proposed remedy would kneecap the state’s economy and lead to little additional water flowing downstream because of the complicated way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the region’s locks and dams.
Kelly’s recommendation in December was a major victory for Georgia, which has spent nearly $50 million in taxpayer money defending itself. But the state was in a similar position two years ago, when it went before Supreme Court justices for the first time.
Despite a Georgia-friendly recommendation from the case's first expert adjudicator, Ralph Lancaster, justices indicated in January 2018 that they wanted to try and find some form of relief for Florida.
Kelly told the justices last month that “the evidence has shown that Georgia’s water use is reasonable” and that there wasn’t enough evidence that the benefits of capping the state’s water usage as Florida has requested would outweigh the economic harms.