Desirable Features of Water Rights Laws

by Dan S. Jones, Jr.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Irrigation and Drainage Division, 1963, Vol. 89, Issue 4, Pg. 1-6

Document Type: Journal Paper


Experience in administrating state water laws has shown that laws that are based on the appropriation doctrine and that do not recognize any claimed riparian rights are most desirable from the viewpoint of an administrator. The law should declare that all waters of the state are public and are subject to appropriation and use as provided by law. One central state agency should have authority to grant water rights, to police the streams, to enforce said rights, and to cancel rights when the appropriator ceases to use water for the purpose for which the appropriation was granted. The decisions of the administrator should be appealable directly to the Supreme Court. Preferential uses of water should be spelled out in the law, and the use of water for a purpose with a high preference should be permitted if a prior appropriator for an inferior purpose is justly compensated for any interference resulting therefrom. A water rights law should apply equally to all of those who desire to use the public waters, including agencies of the United States.

Subject Headings: Water use | Water rights | Laws | Riparian water | Rivers and streams | Court decisions | United States

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