Senators Isakson, Perdue Fight to Dismantle Harmful Water Wars Language in Spending Bill

Introduce amendments to ensure Georgia is not unfairly disadvantaged in a decades-long tristate water dispute

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA), today introduced two amendments to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations measure seeking to dismantle language in the bill that directly attacks the state of Georgia in the longstanding legal water dispute with Florida and Alabama.

“We are strongly opposed to the language included in the underlying bill that politicizes an issue that should be resolved between Georgia, Florida and Alabama, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the courts,” said Senator Isakson. “This is absolutely the wrong way to resolve disputes among our states, and Georgia has been working in good faith for years to resolve these disputes. Our state remains focused on continued conservation efforts so that we are good stewards of the water resources in these river basins. I am prepared to use every tool at my disposal to ensure Georgia is not unfairly disadvantaged in a decades-long tristate water dispute.”

“Both Alabama and Florida have consistently lost in court because their claims have been found to be baseless,” said Senator Perdue earlier today in a speech on the Senate floor. “Now, because of unfavorable court rulings, we are seeing a senator attempt to tip the scales in this water dispute by short-circuiting that litigation through the appropriations process. That’s just not appropriate. These amendments will remove this harmful language from this appropriations bill and preserve the progress the three states have made in these ongoing water negotiations.”

Language was introduced by an Alabama senator to the Fiscal Year 2017 Senate Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill that injects Congress into a legal battle between states that has been ongoing for more than 20 years.

Currently, litigation is pending in the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The matter before the Supreme Court is set to go to trial in November while the matters pending in the other courts could see action later this year as well. 

One of the amendments introduced by Senators Isakson and Perdue would remove the harmful language from the bill entirely. A second amendment would prohibit federal funds from being used to unfairly tip the scales in favor of one state over another before the courts have ruled on Georgia’s water supply needs and the Army Corps of Engineers has finalized a policy regulating return water flow credits.

Earlier this week, Senators Isakson and Perdue spoke on the Senate floor saying Congress should not be in the business of using the appropriations process to intervene in interstate disputes, especially in a case such as this in which litigation is pending. Both Senators voted against proceeding to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.