Court won't rehear ruling on states' water dispute

By RAY HENRY | September 19, 2011 | 2:00 PM EDT

ATLANTA (AP) — A federal appeals court will not reconsider a ruling that gave metro Atlanta the right to tap a reservoir that provides water to roughly 3 million people. That means Alabama and Florida must now decide whether to take their legal challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request Friday from Georgia's neighbors for the full court to reconsider the ruling that came from a three-judge appeals panel this summer. Lawyers were first notified of the decision Monday.

Both states say Georgia uses too much water from Lake Lanier, hurting people and wildlife downstream.

Georgia attorney R. Todd Silliman says he's pleased by the ruling. Alabama attorney Matthew Lembke had not been formally notified of the decision Monday and declined to comment. An attorney for Florida did not immediately return a message seeking comment.