February 1, 2020–The lawsuit filed against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in April 2017 by Earthjustice, on behalf of Apalachicola Riverkeeper, the Florida Wildlife Federation, and the National Wildlife Federation remains in play. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and you can view it online. The case was later moved to the Northern District of Georgia, where it’s now pending. Alabama has also filed a similar case.
The suit asks the Court to order the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to re-do the water management plan and environmental impact statement to comply with federal environmental laws.
Among other things, the Army Corps failed to conduct a sufficient Environmental Impact Statement when it considered a new water management regime for the river and failed to create a plan to mitigate damaging impacts to fish and wildlife, as required by federal law. The Corps also failed to develop a plan that advances fish and wildlife conservation, which violates the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act.
The Corps’ plan is further starving the Apalachicola ecosystem of vital freshwater flows, including during the critical breeding, spawning and flowering seasons for many species. Read a fact sheet on the Apalachicola River System.
The legal complaint points out that the Corps’ new Water Control Manual can dramatically increase upstream withdrawals and severely restrict downstream releases. Frequency of “drought operations” can increase (when the Corps holds back more water) by 600% and triple the amount of time that those restrictive operations are in place.
Currently, preliminary motions are still pending before the judge, and we are waiting for a ruling on those.
Overseeing this case for the plaintiffs is Tania Galloni is the Managing Attorney for Earthustice Florida.
Separately, the US Supreme Court case, FL v GA also remains in play. Update here.