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Interstate Water Management Committee Meeting Summary August 17, 2021–Presentation by Don Blankenau on the Florida v Georgia litigation

Webinar Recording on ICWP’s YouTube Channel:

  1. Call to Order—Chair Drew Dehoff, SRBC called to order at 10:03 a.m. Central time. 
  • Introductions of Participants on the call:  Drew Dehoff, Chair; Sue Lowry; John Fortuna; Lewis Jones; Linda MacGregor; Tom Littlepage; Dowd Johnson; Brian Atkins; Mike Nardolilli; Mark Masters; Katherine Zitsch; Christopher Estes; Don Blankenau. 
  • Presentation by Don Blankenau –Discussion of Florida v Georgia Litigation

Don represented FL for 16 years and a couple of years in the Original Jurisdiction litigation.  To understand how this case got to the SCOTUS, need to examine the 32 years of history prior to the litigation and some of the district court actions. ACF basin and ACT need to be looked at together to understand the motivations of the litigation. Irrigation important in the Flint River Basin.  Recreation on the USACE reservoirs has become important use in the basins.  Gulf sturgeon anadromous fish in the Apalachicola Bay which are ESA listed.   Growth of metro Atlanta led to litigation and petitioned USACE to change reservoir operations for water supply.  Alabama first filed suit against USACE for changing without Congressional authority for allocation change.  1992—cooperative study to document flow needs of each use.  1997 Compacts adopted by congress, but were not apportionment compacts, only aspirational.  Don got involved in late 2000 and attended allocation/apportionment meeting.   All discussions around reservoir operations and not on constraining uses in low flow periods.  2001 GA sued USACE to force reallocation of reservoir storage.  Paul Magnuson appointed on combined litigations and ruled that USACE didn’t have the authority to reallocate to water supply.  Multidistrict litigation concluded in 2008.  Original jurisdiction filed in Oct. 2013 seeking to freeze CU at 1992 levels. Approved in Nov. 2014 and Special Master Ralph Lancaster appointed. SM found that FL harmed, but no apportionment is possible due to USACE not being a party.  Remanded to new SM Paul Kelly. Did not allow any new evidence and found that FL not harmed by GA consumption.  SCOTUS agreed and dismissed the case 2/22/2021.  GA did good job with conservation methods.  FL has shifted away from oyster production and more to tourism.  

  • Annual Meeting October 12-14, 2021 Philadelphia

Planning on face-to-face, but monitoring COVID closely.  Great Lakes and other interstate basin presentations will highlight case studies. 

  • Report out of other ICWP committee activities
    • Principle Statements in development for Resiliency and Extreme Precipitation are being vetted in Water Planning and Water Data & Science committees, respectively.  Just let Sue know if you’d like to see either of these draft statements.
  • Other items for the Committee’s consideration/2021 Workplan
    • Other issues for committee presentations 
      • Board asked this committee to lead Trans-basin Diversions Discussions  -Topics for Coordinated webinars. Drew mentioned that SRBC was formed due to plans for moving water out of the basin.  
      • Compact case studies
      • Other Topics for committee
        • AWRA Webinar on MS v TN litigation 8/18 at noon Central
  • Next webinar—ask Katherine Tucker to summarize her report for the next committee meeting after the Annual Meeting.  The webinar series on Trans basin diversions will begin in 2022. 

Interstate Water Management Committee:  Educate public officials about value of interstate water management organizations.  Provide a forum for sharing current trends in interstate issues.

2019-20 Accomplishments:

  • Updated the 2006 “Interstate Water Solutions” report
  • Completed an Interstates Water Primer
  • Updated Interstate Water Management Case Studies
  1. Primer and Updated Interstates Report completed
    1. Update on MS/TN groundwater litigation at 2020 Annual Meeting
    1. Compact case studies—new ones were added to updated report

Issues for 2021 Workplan

  1. Invite speakers from the various Great Lakes Basin interstate organizations to better understand how the various groups interact and complement each other
  • Federal Reserved Rights Primer (perhaps Norm Johnson could do a similar webinar to what he presented at AWRA-SLC)
  • Ask member states/interstates to give talks on recent litigation

            Republican River Basin (KS and NE)

            Montana v Wyoming—Chris Brown from Wyoming AG’s office

            Ken Brazil mentioned some Water Quality interstate litigation

  • Work with interstate water organizations to highlight, promote and nourish regional approaches and effective organizations.
  • Summary from Katherine Tucker’s survey on interstate’s funding