“…of having a duel, only don’t use guns, you use words. That’s pretty much what the water war litigation has been about,” said Stephen O’Day, partner and head of the environmental law and sustainability practices at Smith Gambrell & Russell LLP.

For 40 years, O’Day has been in the thick of the environmental efforts in Georgia, including a court case that created a pioneering set of rules requiring construction sites in Georgia to manage their stormwater — which turned out to be important in a metro area growing as fast as Atlanta.

A Georgia-raised boy and a Harvard-trained lawyer, O’Day has occasionally participated in the longest water war in the United States — the legal battle among Georgia, Alabama and Florida over the water from the Chattahoochee River. Mostly, he’s a keen observer of why that conflict has lasted longer than the careers of some of his fellow lawyers without a hint of resolution. O’Day lives in West Cobb, northwest of Atlanta, Georgia.


“The lesson is, the way things are structured now – unless you have a group that is forward looking, that governs the shared water, when you get to the crisis, unless some over-riding power makes the parties get together, there is not going to be anything but self-interest going on.”

– Stephen O’Day

Hear from O’Day and other water security experts at Water Leaders Summit 2017 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Registration closes May 19.

– Charles Fishman
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