Georgia, Alabama and Florida have made the cut. And we’re not talking about anything to do with the SEC or football.
The “cut” in this context is the U.S. Supreme Court docket for the upcoming session, in which the justices have put the nearly three-decades-old water litigation over the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river basin among the 19 cases they will hear this term.
As reported in the Gainesville Times, the court issued an order Tuesday saying it will hear oral arguments in the case this term, which will last into next summer. Florida, the plaintiff in the suit, and Alabama, which has filed supporting briefs, are seeking to limit Georgia’s consumption of water in the ACF basin, particularly the upper Chattahoochee Watershed.
Georgia goes into the case with a presumptive advantage: a court-appointed “special master” concluded in February that Georgia water consumption had not harmed Florida, economically or environmentally, nor would upstream restrictions help. The full court might or might not accept that assessment.
As we noted this summer, many Georgia communities and water stakeholders – all in the greater metro Atlanta area – filed amicus briefs supporting Georgia’s defense.
The case will, to the surprise of no one who has followed this saga, be about the competing needs and claims of interests upriver from here, and others downriver from here. Where middle Chattahoochee and middle Flint interests come into this has yet to be addressed.
Growth and gridlock
As people in other parts of the country (not to mention most of the developed world) know already, public transit doesn’t just get you around in cities; it can also get you into and out of them.
As traffic gets worse — not just in the commuter horror story of Atlanta, but also in smaller cities like this one — public transit might be more of a priority for Georgia in the years to come, and not just for Atlanta. In fact, as a state House panel studying the issue is well aware with an election year around the turn of the calendar, making it about Atlanta’s traffic problems is probably a political non-starter.
Nonetheless, the House has commissioned a nearly $1 million, two-year study, as reported by Maggie Lee in the Saporta Report online business magazine. The independent contracting firm Deloitte will offer some early suggestions to be considered by the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding at the start of the 2018 session, and will continue the study for more possible suggestions in 2019.
Whatever our autocentric commuting habits, others have a different perspective. Doug Hooker of the Atlanta Regional Commission told the magazine that for businesses looking to expand or relocate, “very frequently the question is: Where is transit, how easily is it accessible … what’s the cost of transit, what’s the general support for transit?”
With few exceptions, the answer so far has been little to none. But as the most seasoned transportation experts know, we can never pave our way out of gridlock.