Florida Asks Court to Consider Endangered Species

Florida has added a new twist to a three-state fight about sharing water.

It wants a federal judge to consider the plight of several endangered species in the Panhandle as the judge decides how to settle the 15-year dispute with Georgia and Alabama.

The case could determine how much water metro Atlanta can take out of the Chattahoochee River.

Florida filed a motion in U.S. District Court. Lawyers for the state argue that the operation of the federally owned dams on the Chattahoochee River violate the Endangered Species Act.

The motion argues that because the dams hold water they reduce the amount of water flowing downstream into the Apalachicola River for the Gulf sturgeon, two species of freshwater mussels, the Fat Threeridge and Purple Bankclimber.

The motion says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has failed to take the endangered species into consideration. The Corps owns and operates the dams on the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers, which end up feeding Apalachicola River in northwest Florida.

Florida's battle with Georgia and Alabama over the Chattahoochee, Atlanta's most important river, moved back to the courtroom in 2003 after the states failed to reach an agreement to share water.