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Water Rights

"Water is truly our lifeblood and the key to our future economic development." - Attorney General Sam Olens

Attorney General Olens has aggressively advocated for Georgia's fair share of its natural resources, and is working with Governor Nathan Deal and other key Georgia leaders to resolve this critical issue. 

Lake Lanier
After over 20 years of litigation, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in June 2011 what Georgia has long argued: that Lake Lanier is authorized for water supply. This ruling overturned an order by a federal judge in 2009, ruling it illegal to draw water from Lake Lanier to meet the needs of Georgians. If the order had been implemented, it has been estimated to have cost Georgia's economy $40 billion per year. Citizens and businesses alike can now rest assured that the water needs of Georgia will be met.

Following the 11th Circuit ruling, Alabama and Florida requested that the Supreme Court of the United States review the case. On June 25, 2012, the Supreme Court denied that request which means the 11th Circuit decision is final.

“I am pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has denied certiorari and the excellent decision by the Eleventh Circuit is the law – making clear that Lake Lanier can indeed be used for water supply for Georgia," said Attorney General Olens. "It is my hope that we can finally put this decades-long legal dispute to rest and work together with our sister states – in meeting rooms, not courtrooms - to develop a fair and equitable water sharing plan and promote a strong and vibrant Southeastern region.”

Additionally, on June 26, 2012, the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), issued a legal opinion concluding that the Corps has authority to grant the full water supply request regarding Lake Lanier that Georgia submitted in 2000 and has been the subject of litigation ever since. 

Lake Allatoona
Lake Allatoona is located in the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa (ACT) River Basin and supplies water to approximately half a million Georgians. The State of Alabama challenged the Corps' operation of Lake Allatoona, arguing that the Corps prioritized water supply for Georgia over other purposes. After years of litigation, on June 29, 2012, the federal district court in Birmingham dismissed all of Alabama's claims concerning Georgia's right to use Lake Allatoona for water supply.