Will court hear ecos in water suit?

y Dusty Nix


As a scheduled court date approaches in the longstanding legal battle between Florida and Georgia — part of an even longer-standing three-state water dispute now well into its second generation — some prominent conservation organizations are seeking to add their voices to the official record.

Of course, environmental and ecological issues, as well as economic and political ones, have been at the heart of the water disputes all along. Now that Florida’s suit against Georgia over the volume of water that makes it past Atlanta to the Gulf of Mexico seems destined to be decided in the U.S. Supreme Court rather than in closed-door negotiations between the two states, some of the high-profile “ecos” want their input to be part of the transcript.

As reported Sunday in the Gainesville Times, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, the National Audubon Society, the Florida Wildlife Federation and Defenders of Wildlife have collectively petitioned Ralph Lancaster, the Maine attorney and federally appointed “special master” in the case, to be allowed to file “friend of the court” briefs.

The fact that two of the organizations are Florida-based makes their primary concern no mystery. But the wording of the request, as reported in the Times, touches on broader interests.

The conservation groups advocate for “equitable apportionment” of waters in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) basin, necessary to the “significant ecological needs of the downstream floodplain river system … not only the ecologically exceptional Apalachicola River watershed in Florida but also the significant ecological needs of the upstream Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers in Georgia ...”

There’s another X-factor in all this, which can’t yet be taken into consideration in either the water talks or the trial preparations. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which controls major dams and reservoirs in the ACF basin, including Lakes Lanier, West Point and George (Eufaula), is still formulating its updated operating plans, which haven’t been revised for more than a half-century.

Meanwhile, literally millions of people affected by the distribution of water resources wait for decisions and resolutions. We should be used to that by now.

Say it ain’t so …

In a stunning biomedical breakthrough that might rival the development of penicillin for historic significance, the conclusion of a study at Rutgers University could forever change the dietary habits of Americans (especially men).

The “five-second rule” — the time-honored presumption that food dropped on the floor or any other non-sanitary surface is still safe to eat as long as it is picked up and consumed in five seconds or less — isn’t really valid.

Think of how recklessly and often we’ve cheated the Reaper with that morsel that slipped from our careless fingers, only to be picked up and consumed anyway.

Somewhere there’s a to-be-tainted Frito with your name on it. Don’t say you weren’t warned.