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Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River System Quick Links

The Apalachicola River is the largest in Florida in terms of flow and the fourth largest river in the southeastern United States. The River is formed at the union of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers. The Chattahoochee River originates in north Georgia, runs along the Alabama and Georgia border, and joins the Flint River at the Florida and Georgia border to become the Apalachicola River. The Apalachicola River discharges its nutrient-rich freshwater into the Apalachicola Bay, one of the most productive estuarine systems on the Gulf of Mexico coast.

The biological productivity of the bay is strongly influenced by the amount, timing and duration of the freshwater inflow from the Apalachicola River. The river provides the bay with essential nutrients that form the base of the bay’s food web. Alteration of the river’s flows disrupts the input of these nutrients and undermines the foundation for the unique ecosystem found there. The freshwater flow into the bay also affects the bay’s salinity. Oysters, the hallmark commercial species of the bay, depend on freshwater regulated salinity to protect them from disease and excessive predation. The total commercial fishing industry in the Apalachicola Bay is responsible for $134,000,000 in economic output and an additional $71,000,000 in value added impacts.

Florida, Georgia, Alabama and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) have been engaged in litigation over sharing the waters within the basin of the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint (ACF) Rivers. The disputes have focused primarily on the Corps’ operation of its four Chattahoochee River dams. The largest is Buford Dam, which forms Lake Lanier located north of Atlanta. Lake Lanier accounts for over 60 percent of the water storage in the ACF Basin.

Florida is a party in seven separate federal court proceedings that date back to the 1970s.

Boats on Apalachicola Bay

Boats on Apalachicola Bay
Oyster Boat on Apalachicola Bay

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Last updated: January 17, 2012

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