The theme of the 34th Annual Red Clay Conference was "Diving into Georgia's Water Resources". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 (Water Division) Deputy Director Denisse Diaz delivered the Peter Appel Keynote Lecture. Panel discussions also focused on three areas: water wars, wetlands and coasts, and rivers, streams and waterways. The Conference took place on March 25th from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM.

From the Conference Program:

The Red Clay Conference is an annual student-run conference hosted by the University of Georgia School of Law and the Environmental Law Association. Red Clay was established 34 years ago to increase public awareness of environmental issues on a regional, national, and international level through a series of educational presentations and open forum discussions. This year’s topic is “Diving into Georgia’s Water Resources” and will focus on the topic of water and environmental law. The topic is inspired by the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Clean Water Act. Throughout the day, the Conference will look at water resource issues both in Georgia and in relation to the national level. This year’s panels are:“Water Wars,” “Wetlands and Coast,” and “Rivers, Streams, and Waterways.”
The first panel will discuss the timely issue of the so called, “water wars.”Water use between states has long been a source of contention. Perhaps the most infamous is the tri-state dispute between Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. In 2021, the US Supreme Court dismissed the issue against Georgia. Panelists include litigators and experts in the case.

Georgia has approximately 4.8 million acres of wetlands and 110 miles of coastline. These diverse ecosystems contribute significantly to Georgia’s water resources and industries. Panelists will discuss their work on the Okefenokee, coastline policies, as well as uses, threats, and protections for these water resources. Also flowing through Georgia are tens of thousands of miles of rivers,streams, and other waterways. The third panel will focus on these resources and hear from scientific and legal experts whose careers have followed these resources for many years.This year’s Peter Appel Honorary keynote speaker is Denisse Diaz of the Region4 EPA office. The keynote is named after the late Professor Appel who was named the Alex W. Smith Professor of Law and taught in the areas of environmental law,natural resources law, and property. Diaz is the deputy director of EPA Region 4water division and brings a wealth of experience.

In 1972 the Clean Water Act (CWA) was passed. The CWA was the culmination of prior legislative action and was meant to address water pollution and its disastrous effects. This federal action standardized some practices but also gave rise to much dispute and continued litigation. Although we may name some bodies of water as political boundaries, the waters do not know it and continue to cross boundaries. The environment will continue to be a collective problem that requires interaction between many different political groups and divisions, attorneys, experts,and community members. Interpretation of the CWA and subsequent regulations and litigation can have dramatic effects on the environment and those in it, from determining development to preventing health issues. Different administrations and courts have come to different conclusions throughout the CWA’s 50 year history. Nor is the CWA the only relevant law in this area. Just as a resource is connected to the whole environment,so are the various topics of environmental law. Conference presenters will discuss their own work in the area of water resources and environmental law, sharing their expertise. Investigating and explaining the importance of water resources to environmental law and to all of our society is of the utmost importance. The Environmental Law Association is proud to present this year’s program.


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Friday, March 25th
9:00 AM

Opening Remarks

Peter B. Rutledge, University of Georgia School of Law

Larry Walker Room, Rusk Hall

9:00 AM - 9:30 AM

9:30 AM

Water Wars Panel

Shelly Ellerhorst, Kazmarek Mowrey Cloud Laseter, LLP
Judd Turner, Gilbert, Harrell, Sumerford & Martin, PC
Daniel Inkelas, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Larry Walker Room, Rusk Hall

9:30 AM - 10:45 AM

10:55 AM

Wetlands and Coasts Panel

Alice Keys, Coastal Conservation, One Hundred Miles
Joe Cook, Georgia River Network
Shana Jones, University of Georgia

Larry Walker Room, Rusk Hall

10:55 AM - 12:00 PM

12:45 PM

Peter Appel Honorary Keynote

Denisse Diaz, Environmental Protection Agency

Larry Walker Room, Rusk Hall

12:45 PM - 2:00 PM

2:10 PM

Rivers, Streams and Waterways Panel

Gary Hawkins, University of Georgia
Anna Truszcynski, Georgia Environmental Protection Division
Kevin Jeselnik, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper

Larry Walker Room, Rusk Hall

2:10 PM - 3:20 PM

3:20 PM

Closing Remarks

Anna C. Scartz, University of Georgia School of Law

Larry Walker Room, Rusk Hall

3:20 PM - 3:30 PM