Georgia Department of Law, from the office of Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General


Georgia Defends Water Rights before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals

March 9, 2011

The State of Georgia presented its oral argument today before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals asking the Court to overturn U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson’s July 2009 ruling so that the state can continue to meet the water needs of Georgia citizens. Judge Magnuson’s ruling declared it illegal for three million Metro Atlanta residents to rely on LakeLanier to supply their water.

“This case is critical for Georgia in that it will have a substantial impact on our state for decades in terms of both sustainability and growth, said Attorney General Sam Olens. “I am committed to defending Georgia’s right to its fair share of natural resources and am firmly convinced in the strength of our case on appeal.”

If Georgia, Alabama and Florida do not reach an agreement by Judge Magnuson’s July 2012 deadline, Metro Atlanta will be forced to reduce the amount of water it receives from LakeLanier to 1970s levels when the population was considerably smaller. The potential impact to Metro Atlanta alone if Judge Magnuson’s order goes into effect is estimated at between $25 billion and $40 billion per year, dwarfing even the immense cost of federal healthcare reform.

The oral argument, presented by former U.S. Solicitor Seth Waxman, provided an opportunity for the state to summarize its strongest arguments for the court. The State of Georgia was joined by Atlanta and Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and GwinnettCounties. Alabama, Florida, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Southeastern Federal Power Customers also presented arguments.