Two separate lawsuits, one in federal court, one filed by the State of Georgia to the U.S. Supreme Court, appear ready to settle the issue over water rights and Lake Lanier within the next 18-24 months.
As described in the AJC, Alabama and Florida claim that being a water supply for Atlanta was not one of the original intended purposes of the lake, as authorized by Congress:
Alabama and Florida have contested metro Atlanta’s right to additional drinking water from Lanier since 1990, when the first of many lawsuits was filed. They say Congress didn’t authorize the reservoir to serve as metro Atlanta’s water supply when it approved Buford Dam in the 1940s. It was built in the 1950s, forming Lanier. They argue its purposes were to control floods, float barges downstream and generate hydropower.
Yet the reason most often cited for draining the lake, protection of the mussels on the riverbanks downstream, is an entirely new contrivance:
Protecting species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act is a new demand on Lanier that surfaced in recent years. It requires the corps to send more than 3 billion gallons of water a day to Florida during the worst droughts.
Thus, Florida would have the court believe that an additional 4 million people moving into the Atlanta area is an unfortunate surprise that isn’t their problem, but thirsty mussels should rearrange everyone else’s plans.
When I see logic like that, it makes me scared to see this in front of our modern court system.