Water wars threaten Apalachicola seafood industry

APALACHICOLA, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Florida, Georgia, and Alabama's water wars have been going on for decades and the Supreme Court is tasked with finding a remedy.

If justices side with Georgia, it could change the Apalachicola seafood industry forever.

According to Apalachicola seafood dealer Tommy Ward, oysters are a livelihood for many people in the small town and the ongoing water wars between Florida, Georgia, and Alabama threaten their way of life.

"It's not only going to put me out of a job it's going to put a lot of other people out of a job and it's going to take away a lot of the tourism of the people that come here to do pleasure fishing," said Ward, owner of 13 Mile Seafood.

Florida's attorney argue fresh water from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers flowing from Georgia provide salinity in the Apalachicola Bay to sustain the bay's seafood industry. If the Supreme Court justices side with Georgia, one local oyster bar owner believes the oyster industry could end in Apalachicola.

"Our oyster industry will be dead in the next couple of years. It's a huge problem because our bay is starving for water. It will affect my business because I'm in the oyster, raw oyster industry," said Dan Davis, the owner of Hole In The Wall.

Both seafood industry professionals believe a solution is possible in the water wars if the justices can find one.

"They really need to shut the industry down for about three years and take all the pressure off of it and allow mother nature to take its course," said Davis.

"I just hope that we can come to a good, common ground to where it benefits not only Apalachicola Bay but the people up river. Come up with a compromise that will help everybody involved, not just one section," said Ward.

The Supreme Court is not expected to reach a decision on the water wars for several months.

According to the Washington Post, Florida has spent nearly $57 million dollars in legal fees on the current water wars lawsuit.