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Rubio Leads Florida Delegation in Fighting for ACF River Basin

Jul 26, 2017 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) led the entire Florida congressional delegation in urging President Trump to ensure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) maintain a neutral role in the Supreme Court case regarding Georgia’s overconsumption and lack of water conservation in the Apalachicola-Caloosahatchee-Flint (ACF) River Basin. The longstanding dispute is now pending before the Supreme Court in Florida v. Georgia in an effort to stop the damage to Florida’s Apalachicola Bay and neighboring communities. 
 
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has a vital responsibility to operate a series of water control structures throughout the ACF for a variety of purposes that include flood risk management, navigation, hydropower, recreation, environmental and water quality, and water supply storage,” states the letter. “This important watershed has far-reaching economic benefits in all three states, yet unfortunately, as a result of overconsumption caused by the refusal of just one of those states to implement commonplace and sensible water conservation practices, downstream communities, including Apalachicola Bay’s oyster industry, have been devastated. As a result, the long-simmering dispute has embroiled Congress, and litigation is now pending before the Supreme Court in Florida v. Georgia.”
 
The full text of the letter is below:
 
Dear Mr. President:  
 
We write to you in regard to the ongoing issue involving the apportionment of water resources of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River (ACF) Basin between the states of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.
 
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has a vital responsibility to operate a series of water control structures throughout the ACF for a variety of purposes that include flood risk management, navigation, hydropower, recreation, environmental and water quality, and water supply storage.  This important watershed has far-reaching economic benefits in all three states, yet unfortunately, as a result of overconsumption caused by the refusal of just one of those states to implement commonplace and sensible water conservation practices, downstream communities, including Apalachicola Bay’s oyster industry, have been devastated.  As a result, the long-simmering dispute has embroiled Congress, and litigation is now pending before the Supreme Court in Florida v. Georgia
 
In order to extricate Congress and the Courts and finally force the three states to resolve their differences in an equitable and durable way, we strongly believe that it is essential for the USACE to take a neutral role in this dispute.  Importantly, in the March 2017 ACF Basin Water Control Manual (WCM) Record of Decision (ROD), the USACE for the first time acknowledged publicly that it would indeed adjust its operational plans to supply more water downstream to meet the commitments of any agreement joined by, or, in the case of a final decision from the Supreme Court or legislation by Congress, imposed upon, the States.
 
Building on this initial positive step, we respectfully ask your Administration to ensure that any amicus brief submitted by USACE to the Supreme Court in Florida v. Georgia maintain consistency with USACE’s statements in the March 2017 ROD, including:

  • “With respect to the Florida v. Georgia case, USACE will review any final decision from the U.S. Supreme Court and consider any operational adjustments that are appropriate in light of that decisions, including modifications to the then-existing WCM, if applicable.”;
  • “Should the Supreme Court issue a decree apportioning the waters of the ACF Basin, … USACE would take those developments into account and adjust its operations accordingly, including new or revised WCMs, new or supplemental NEPA or ESA documentation, or any other actions as may be appropriate under applicable law.”; and
  • “The [March 2017 WCM revisions] … would not apportion the waters of the ACF Basin among the States or in any way prejudice the Supreme Court, the States, or the Congress from [sic] with respect to a future apportionment of the waters of the ACF Basin.” 

We thank you for your consideration of this request and look forward to ensuring an equitable and durable resolution to the apportionment of the ACF Basin’s water resources.