A Case of Oysters – Understanding and Quantifying Surface/Groundwater Interactions
The Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers flow through Southwestern Georgia into Lake Seminole at the Florida-Georgia Stateline. The Apalachicola River begins at Lake Seminole and flows into Apalachicola Bay which is a major producer of oysters in Florida. The ACF River basin has recently faced severe multi-year droughts and flow in the ACF River has declined in recent years. The oyster industry in Apalachicola Bay was declared a disaster in 2012. That spurred the State of Florida to file a complaint against Georgia in the Supreme Court of the United States for equitable apportionment and injunctive relief. The complaint pointed at increased consumption by Georgia as the cause of adverse impacts to the Bay and requested the Court to cap Georgia’s overall consumptive water uses to levels existing in 1992. This presentation provides an overview of the case and review of the tools and techniques used to evaluate and quantify the impact of groundwater pumping versus other factors (including weather and anthropogenic activities) on flow at the Florida-Georgia Stateline and into Apalachicola Bay. These methods were presented at trial before a special master and the case will be argued before the U.S Supreme Court.