Analysis Group Aids Georgia’s Successful Water Dispute Proceeding Before The US Supreme Court

April 2, 2021

Counsel for the State of Georgia, the defendant in a long-running water allocation dispute with the State of Florida, retained Analysis Group to analyze relevant economic issues in a report to the Special Master appointed to the “original jurisdiction” case before the US Supreme Court, Florida v. Georgia. An Analysis Group team led by Principal Todd Schatzki and Vice President Jonathan Borck supported our affiliated expert, Professor Robert Stavins from the Harvard Kennedy School, in preparing a report and testimony on key economic issues affecting resolution of the dispute. These included the amount of economic activity associated with water use in the region, the likely economic costs of water use restrictions on residential and agricultural water users, and the likely economic benefits of increased water availability to Florida.

Professor Stavins concluded that the proposed reallocation of water failed a benefit-cost test, because the costs of the proposed water restrictions would be expected to greatly exceed the benefits that would be derived from those restrictions. Paul J. Kelly, Jr., the Supreme-Court Appointed Special Master, agreed with Professor Stavins’s conclusions and recommended a ruling in favor of Georgia. In his report to the US Supreme Court, the Special Master cited a number of findings from Professor Stavins’s testimony, including the value to Georgia from water consumption; the costs and feasibility of reducing Georgia’s water use as proposed by Florida; and the incremental revenues and profits to the Apalachicola Bay fisheries from increased streamflow.

After conducting its constitutionally-mandated review, the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously for the Special Master’s recommendation in favor of Georgia.