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Posted: February 18, 2012 9:30 p.m.

Latarski: Bridging troubled waters

Just in case you missed this, Alabama and Florida have petitioned the United States Supreme Court to review a ruling by an appellate court that will allow Georgia-that is mostly metro-Atlanta-to take water from Lake Lanier.

The appellate court ruling overturned the 2009 decision of U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson, who said the city had no rights to the water in the lake as that was not part of the original intent of its construction and ordered the three states to get together and work out an amicable water sharing agreement by this summer.

An amicable agreement between Georgia, Alabama and Florida? On anything? That must have been a day when the judge had a five martini lunch.

The last time these three states agreed on anything was when they all decided to secede from the Union, and we know how well that turned out.

It's even hard to get two of them to agree on anything.

The only thing Georgia and Florida agree on is to hold a football game in Jacksonville every year and this has no effect on the water problem because during that weekend no one in Jacksonville is drinking water.

The folks in Alabama and Georgia will agree on their dislike for Steve Spurrier but that's about it, although you can throw Urban Meyer in there as well.

Alabama and Florida might agree that the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico are the best around, although they will differ on who actually owns the panhandle. While it is officially part of the State of Florida, most generally consider it just the lowest part of Alabama.

Also in this water fight, although not as loudly, are Georgia communities downstream from Atlanta who believe they have just as much right to this important resource for their own economic development and well-being as does the metro area. The natural distrust, and in some cases demented dislike, of Atlanta by some other parts of the state is not something to be ignored.

Water wars have gone on for many years but mostly in western states where water has long been a premium as well as a source of irritation and irrigation.

If the State of Colorado had bottled up the Colorado River there would be no Southern California, so we know who to blame as well as being able to see how important water is in the long term.

There is no guarantee the Supreme Court will hear the case and despite all the harping by lawyers and politicians on all sides about the correctness of their various positions there are never any guarantees who will win when things get in court.

Technicalities and legal entanglements abound in such complex cases as this one and it may be the High Court simply decides to-dare I say it-wash its hands of the whole business and return the fight to a lower court with instructions for the conflicting states to find a way to hammer out a deal.

This may very well put everyone back in the same posture they are in now and allow the issue to drift along like a drunken college student on a raft in the Chattahoochee.

Should the High Court hear the case it may be worth nothing that, given the age of some of the justices, they no doubt have first-hand knowledge about water retention, or lack thereof.

But this is serious business with far reaching repercussions and, frankly, should not be an issue decided in Washington by those dressed in long black robes.

The three states should be able to play together like grownups and find a solution to this problem.

The best ruling the Supreme Court could make is to require all the parties involved to be locked in a room and not allowed any water until they reached a decision. Better yet, give them all the water they want but no access to a bathroom.

That should solve the problem in a couple of hours.

Ric Latarski is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics and can be reached at Rlatarski@aol.com.

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