Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Geography, Environment and Planning

Major Professor

M. Martin Bosman, Ph.D

Committee Member

Pratyusha Basu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jayajit Chakraborty, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rebecca Johns-Krishnaswami, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chris Meindl, Ph.D.


neoliberalism, rescaling, spatiotemporal fix, water conflict, water governance


Since 1989, the co-riparian States of Georgia, Florida and Alabama have been locked in an overt and institutionalized conflict to secure access to the waters of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin. In 1997, in an effort to end this interstate conflict which had earned the reputation as the longest water conflict in U.S. history, public officials at the federal and state scales agreed to suspend all pending litigation against one another and concurrently deployed a dispute resolution mechanism, known as `compact negotiations,' in the hope of equitably allocating the waters of the ACF Basin. Despite proclamations by public officials, exclaiming their commitment to the process of compact negotiations and their desire to see an end to the lingering conflict, 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the bitter conflict over the ACF waters and a sustainable resolution has not yet been achieved.

Against this background, this study provides an in-depth empirical explanation for why multiple efforts to resolve the ACF conflict have been unsuccessful and largely counterproductive. Using data collected from in-depth interviews with elite stakeholders and archival data parsed from executive agencies, bureaucratic reports and media sources, this study demonstrates that Georgia's strategic efforts to (a) rescale water management authority in the basin along neoliberal lines and (b) spatiotemporally displace demand- and supply-side management policies, have allowed Georgia and metropolitan Atlanta to achieve water security through a process of accumulation by dispossession. Finally, this study shows that Georgia and Atlanta's water security has compromised the authority of federal agencies to manage interstate waters, exposed the inability of the three riparian states to reach equitable compromise, and demonstrated the Court's express complicity in (re)producing uneven development in the American South.