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

Georgia-Florida water war trial could end this week

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.

Florida wants a consumption cap on Georgia’s water usage, as well as a set amount of water flowing over the Georgia-Florida line, particulary during drought.

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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