There's no clear end in sight in the increasingly bitter Florida-Georgia water war

Businesses in Florida and Georgia both rely on the same river basin — which means war.

For decades, the states of Florida and Georgia have been fighting over water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, a shared source to which both sides have asserted claim. But now the end of their water war may be in sight.

The long-simmering argument over who can take from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, and how much, begins in northern Georgia, where water is predominantly used for public and industrial use in metro Atlanta. As the river flows south, water is used to irrigate crops like cotton and peanuts in the state’s large agriculture industry.


Finally, the basin lets out in Apalachicola, a small fishing town in Florida’s Gulf Coast.

But the catch in Apalachicola, once known as America’s oyster capital, is dwindling as less freshwater makes its way to the bay and sea life like oysters, crabs, fish, and shrimp struggle to populate in its high-salinity waters. Things finally came to a head when Florida governor Rick Scott sued Georgia directly in the Supreme Court. This summer, the court may once and for all decide on the fair way to divvy up the river.

But that's just a solution on paper. It’s still not exactly clear how a verdict will change the way water is distributed between the two states.

To understand the future of the waters, VICE News traveled up the basin, meeting with all of the stakeholders.

This segment originally aired April 17, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

Cover image: Carissa Henderson