Federal Water Tap, August 19: Water Returns to the U.S. Supreme Court

Florida v Georgia
The long-running water feud between three states in the Southeast will perhaps see two of them face off in the nation’s highest court.

Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, announced that he would file a lawsuit in September in the U.S. Supreme Court to stop what he calls “Georgia’s unchecked consumption of water that threatens the existence of Apalachicola fisheries and the future economic development of this region.” The Apalachicola Bay is the center of Florida’s oyster industry, which has been crippled by lower river flows.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, a Republican, said the lawsuit, after two years of negotiations, was disappointing.

“The fastest and best resolution is an agreement, not a lawsuit going into an election year,” Deal said in a statement.

For now, Alabama, the third state in the basin, is sitting on the sidelines, Tallahassee.com reports.

Read more from Circle of Blue about the Apalachicola Bay and water use in Georgia.

Colorado River Record
The Bureau of Reclamation announced a record-low water release from Lake Powell for the 2014 water year, which begins October 1. This sets up Arizona, California, Nevada, and Mexico for a first-ever shortage declaration by 2016. Circle of Blue has all the details about what this means for the basin – higher water prices, less hydropower, more groundwater pumping.

Solar Zones Activating
The Bureau of Land Management will oversee its first auction of solar-development rights, similar to the process for leasing public land to oil and gas companies, the Denver Post reports.

Just over 1,215 hectares (3,000 acres) are available in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Last year, the Bureau established 19 solar zones in six Western U.S. states as priority areas for large-scale solar development. The BLM has launched a new website for its solar energy program.

Coal Export Terminal
The scoping period for an environmental review of a proposed coal-export terminal on the Columbia River near Longview, Washington began on August 16. The Army Corps of Engineers is working with state and local agencies. Have an opinion about what the review should cover? Send comments by November 18 to comments@millenniumbulkeiswa.gov.

National Drinking Water Advisory Council
The council, which advises the Environmental Protection Agency, will hold a public meeting to discuss pending revisions to federal lead and copper rules. The meeting will be held October 9-10 in Arlington, Virginia. To attend, email Simon.Roy@epa.gov by September 6.

Federal Water Tap is a weekly digest spotting trends in U.S. government water policy. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

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