Florida-Georgia squabble could impact Tennessee-Georgia border dispute?

Georgia appears on its way to winning a lawsuit with Florida over the use of water from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers, reports the Times-Free Press, and that has led to talk of the Peach State launching a legal effort to change its border with the Volunteer State to take water from the Tennessee River.

The Florida-Georgia dispute didn’t involve borders; rather Florida’s 2013 lawsuit sought to restrict Georgia’s removal of water from the rivers in question, which flow south from Georgia into Florida. A special magistrate appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court, Ralph Lancaster, has issued his findings in the matter, which now go to the Supreme Court for a final decision.

Officials in the offices of Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Attorney General Chris Carr did not respond to questions about whether they might try to parlay Lancaster’s recommendation on the Florida issue into a new legal challenge on the state’s northern border.

Georgia lawmakers have long claimed a faulty 1818 survey left the state line roughly a mile south of the 35th parallel, which is where the border was intended to go. The mistake means the Tennessee River stays in Tennessee until it crosses into Alabama near South Pittsburg.

It comes within about 300 feet of the Georgia state line at one point in Marion County, leaving Dade County, Ga., tantalizingly close to the water.

With a sliver of the river in its control, Georgia could access Nickajack Lake to pump up to 1 billion gallons a day into the state to quench widespread water woes, magnified last year as the area grappled with devastating drought.

Dade County (GA) Executive Ted Rumley said last week the issue is still alive, even though it has been quiet for a few years. In 2013, Georgia lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a resolution offering to give up the border dispute in exchange for 1.5 square miles of Tennessee land, where a pipeline could be built. Tennessee scoffed at the deal.

“There’s some things that are coming back on this,” Rumley said. “It’s never been dead, but it’s just been on the back burner as far as the actual border dispute. I think it’s something you’ll see come back in the next year or so.”

… Marion County (TN) Mayor David Jackson said he remains “totally opposed” to moving the border or offering a slice of his county to Georgia.

“It gets into planning,” he said. “Maybe they should look at better ways to plan in the future.”

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