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Arguments moved up in Florida-Georgia water fight

A federal judge has rescheduled arguments for Oct. 17

A federal judge has rescheduled arguments for Oct. 17 in a long-running legal battle between Florida and Georgia about water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system.

Senior U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Paul J. Kelly, who was appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court to serve as a special master in the case, issued an order last week rescheduling the arguments, after initially setting a Dec. 16 date.

Kelly, who serves on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and is based in Santa Fe, N.M., will hear arguments in an Albuquerque courtroom.

The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system starts in Georgia and flows south into the Florida Panhandle.

Florida filed the lawsuit in 2013, alleging that Georgia is using too much water from the system, causing problems such as a declining oyster industry in Franklin County’s Apalachicola Bay.

Kelly was named as a special master after a divided U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned a 2017 recommendation by another special master, Ralph Lancaster, who said Florida had not proven its case “by clear and convincing evidence” that imposing a cap on Georgia’s water use would benefit the Apalachicola River.

Kelly ultimately will make a recommendation to the Supreme Court.

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