Monthly Archives: March 2015

Whose water is it, anyway? Alabama’s? Florida’s? Or Georgia’s?

Whenever a dispute arises between or among the States of the United States of America, the U. S. Constitution provides that original jurisdiction lies in the Supreme Court.  In simple terms, whenever a dispute arises between or among the States, a State must file its lawsuit exclusively in the Supreme Court and not in any of the inferior federal courts or in any state court. art. III, section 2, Constitution.

Legend Map of the Apalachicola-Chatahoochee-Flint River Basin

Legend Map of the Apalachicola-Chatahoochee-Flint River Basin

In the early years of the Republic, many of the disputes were questions over the boundary lines separating one state from another. State of Florida v. State of Georgia, 58 U.S. 478 (1855).  Such disputes begin with one State requesting permission to bring a lawsuit before the high court, together with a memorandum arguing the basis for bringing the lawsuit against another state or states.  The Court then appoints an attorney licensed to practice before the Court but residing in another State not involved in or affected by the lawsuit to serve as a special magistrate.

The order appointing the special magistrate generally empowers him or her to take and receive evidence from the parties, issue subpoenas on request of the parties, conduct hearings as required, and to submit to the Court a report or reports and recommendations. The parties may then file exceptions or objections to a report.  The Supreme Court makes the final decision from which there is no further appeal.

In later years, the population of the United States has grown to more than three hundred million.  Population growth in both Florida and Georgia has placed great demands on what is inevitably  a limited water supply.  Disputes between and among the States over this limited water supply have become intractable as demands on water supplies increase.  Complaining States seek intervention of the Court when at least one State believes that another State has used more water than equity allows.

In 2014,  the State of Florida sued the State of Georgia, contending that Georgia has by overuse and impounding of water not yet needed deprived the Apalachicola Bay of sufficient water to sustain Florida’s oyster resource industry.  Florida alleges that an entire way of life dependent on oyster cultivation and an entire ecosystem supported by the Bay are already in jeopardy and may ultimately be destroyed.  See, 1992 cases State of Florida v. State of Alabama v. State of Georgia and, most recently, State of Florida v. State of Georgia, 2014.

Troubled Waters

Newzar

Polish Waters Polish Waters

Poland’s inland waterways are underexploited and underdeveloped. They barely account for 0.2% of the country’s total inland transport. In comparison, the proportion is 17% in Germany. The global trend is to promote water transport. Meanwhile, only 10% of Polish waterways have the operability parameters required by the 2002 resolution on the classification of inland waterways. Although the authorities admit that Poland needs to do a great deal in this area, two ministries seem to be acting at cross-purposes. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Development intends to allocate PLN 4 billion to enhance the navigability of Polish rivers. The plans may, however, be thwarted by the Environment Ministry whose draft water bill envisages a considerable rise in charges for water transport of goods and passengers as well as for the use of sluices. As a result, river transport might prove significantly more expensive than that by motorway. The ministry…

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Florida dams, reservoirs, and similar water basins and catchments

Franklin Lock and Dam on the Caloosahatchee River at Olga, Fla., opened in 1965, fourteen feet high, upstream of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, and built at a cost of $3.8 million.

Franklin Lock and Dam on the Caloosahatchee River at Olga, Fla., opened in 1965, fourteen feet high, upstream of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, and built at a cost of $3.8 million.

 

Kerr Lake is located in the Ocala National Forest, the largest concentration of sand pine in the world.  Home to black bear, bald eagle, and Florida manatee.

Kerr Lake is located in the Ocala National Forest, the largest concentration of sand pine in the world. Home to black bear, bald eagle, and Florida manatee.

St. Lucie Lock and Dam, Gateway to the Gulf of Mexico from the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway

St. Lucie Lock and Dam, Gateway to the Gulf of Mexico from the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway

Construction began on the Jim Woodruff Dam in about 1947 and opened in 1957. Located in Gadsden and Jackson counties, Florida/Decatur County, Georgia.  Impounds from the Caloosahatchee and Flint rivers created Lake Seminole (Reservoir), encompassing 58 square miles.

Construction began on the Jim Woodruff Dam in about 1947 and opened in 1957. Located in Gadsden and Jackson counties, Florida/Decatur County, Georgia. Impounds from the Caloosahatchee and Flint rivers created Lake Seminole (Reservoir), encompassing 58 square miles.

Federal law requires the Secretary of Army to inspect the Intracoastal

Federal law requires the Secretary of the Army to make a physical inspection of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway at least annually and report his or her findings to Congress.

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway

The author has attended at least six inspections of the Florida portion of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.  One of the more esoteric briefings was the replacement of mangrove shoots in the fast-moving current of the Jupiter Inlet at Jupiter, Florida, in Palm Beach County.  Engineers had devised a method of inserting hundreds of young mangrove shoots encased in PVC piping in the Inlet.  Several years later, we observed that these shoots had taken hold in the inlet and that they appeared to be thriving.

Other briefings have included plans on restoring the original flows of the Everglades south to the tip of the Florida peninsula, as well as the installation of recreational areas, including a natural aquatic pool for the observation of marine life on Peanut Island at Lake Worth (Palm Beach) Inlet in the Waterway and cleanup of the bottom land of the Miami River utilizing performance specifications requiring the bidder to provide both the price and the method to be used in cleanup.