Gov. Deal Says He Regrets Not Resolving Water Wars

Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday he regrets not reaching an agreement on the water war with his counterparts in Florida and Alabama.

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The Supreme Court has just two cases left that it hasn’t ruled on this term.

One of them is a fight over water between Georgia and Florida, one of the battles in the decades-long water wars between those two states and sometimes Alabama.

Over the years, it hasn’t just been a legal fight. The three states’ disagreements over water have also come up in Congress, and the governors of the states have tried to reach deals. Gov. Nathan Deal, who’s in the final months of his term, said he regrets not being able to find a resolution.

Alabama and Florida have long complained that Georgia uses too much of the water from the rivers that the states share. In the Supreme Court, Florida is asking for a cap on how much water Georgia can use from the Chattahoochee River, which supplies most of Atlanta, and from the Flint River, which supplies Georgia farms.

Deal said at one point, he thought he and his counterparts in Florida and Alabama were close to an agreement.

“But that did not happen,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “I regret that it did not happen, because these are tough issues.”

Deal said outside advisers for the other two governors kept them from reaching a deal.

The Supreme Court case also won’t resolve everything, because there are other active lawsuits over the rivers.

“It is one of those issues that will continue to be a concern for both the state of Georgia, the state of Alabama and the state of Florida,” Deal said.

Deal said while this is a tough issue for the courts to figure out, he thinks it’s even harder for Congress — and he hopes they stay out of it.

“The next administration is going to have to continue to be vigilant, and I will offer them all the support that I can give them,” he said.

The decision from the Supreme Court is likely to come on Wednesday.

WABE’s Ross Terrell contributed to this report.