A Legal and Economic Analysis of the Tri-State Water Wars

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Water is essential for all human life and, thus, serves as the keystone of any prosperous nation. One can look back thousands of years into the known history of human civilizations and see the evolution (and revolution) of how mankind has come to govern its water. Taking a look around the world, it's easy to see the devastating impacts of inadequate water supply on both human life and the environment, as a whole, but it is more difficult to see the extent to which a water-rich society may take this vital resource, and the way-of-life it has enabled, for granted. The Tri-State Water Wars, as it has come to be known, refers to the collective, on-going series of legal disputes between Georgia, Alabama, and Florida over rights to the shared water resources of the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa (ACT) and Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basins. In 2013, the State of Florida filed a lawsuit against the State of Georgia in the Supreme Court of the United States in regard to the waters of the ACF River Basin. This paper will explore some of the most politically, economically, and legally compelling issues embedded in the dispute. All three states have unique claims to the shared waters of the ACF Basin, from Metro Atlanta growing population and demand, to south Georgia’s agricultural irrigation, to Alabama’s nuclear power plant, to Florida’s oysters and endangered species. The Supreme Court will likely decide before the end of the year whether or not they will take the case. If they do take the case, the trial will likely drag out for multiple years; thus, any immediate resolution sought by Florida may be delayed. Regardless of the outcome, each stakeholder in the ongoing Tri-State Water Wars litigation must determine how it will accommodate future demand increases and how future supplies may play a role in meeting this demand.





McCord, John Miller Jr. (2014). A Legal and Economic Analysis of the Tri-State Water Wars. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/8559.

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