Georgia may have notched a big win last week in its seemingly never-ending legal battle with its neighbors over water, but that hasn’t stopped the legal bills from piling up.
Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday tapped another $7 million from his emergency fund to pay mounting litigation costs in the water wars fight. That’s on top of roughly $30 million the governor has set aside in the last year to pay attorneys' fees and other bills.
The state notched a victory in the long-running dispute with Florida last week when a judicial official urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reject strict new water consumption limits that Georgia said would have struck a devastating blow to the state’s economy.
The recommendation by Ralph Lancaster, a special master appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court to handle the case, found that Florida had “failed to show that a consumption cap” was needed after five weeks of hearing testimony in the case.
Lancaster’s finding is not final, as the high court can reject his recommendation or take another route. Congress could ultimately weigh in, and further lawsuits can’t be ruled out either.
Still, it was celebrated by Georgia politicians, business boosters and agriculture groups that said strict new water limits could have cost the state billions of dollars. Florida said a court defeat could endanger its environment and hobble its thriving oyster industry.