The U.S. Supreme Court will take the next step March 17 in Florida's lawsuit against Georgia over water use in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system.
Justices are scheduled that day to discuss in a closed-door conference a report from a court-appointed special master who last month recommended rejecting Florida's call for limiting Georgia's water usage in the river system.
As part of his 137-page report, Ralph Lancaster, a Maine attorney who acted as special master, recommended a one-page decree that could be adopted by the nation's highest court.
"For the reasons fully set forth in the special master's report, we conclude that Florida has not proven by clear and convincing evidence that a decree imposing a cap on Georgia's consumptive water use would result in additional streamflow in Florida at a time that would provide a material benefit to Florida," the proposed decree says. "Accordingly, we ADOPT the special master's recommendation and DENY Florida's request for relief."
The court will issue its ruling sometime after the conference, though a date for such a decision is unclear.
The report, and its expected acceptance by the justices, is still causing reverberations in Florida.
Members of the state's congressional delegation, including U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, are backing legislation seeking to force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to modify its water usage protocols in the region, arguing Georgia's water consumption is damaging the Apalachicola Bay ecosystem and economy.