Federal Versus State Interests in Water Development

by Harvey O. Banks,

Serial Information: Journal of the Irrigation and Drainage Division, 1965, Vol. 91, Issue 1, Pg. 31-44

Document Type: Journal Paper


The United States Supreme Court has placed the federal government in a paramount position as regards ownership and control of much of the nation's water resources. State administration of water rights and water rights acquired under state water laws are in jeopardy. Persistent attempts to obtain corrective action by Congress have failed. Unless federal-state-local relationships are put on a sound basis, the lower echelons of government must be forced out of the water development field as competition for water resources and cost of water development increases. Congressional action is urgently needed. Enactment by Congress of a specific policy (1) defining the amount of water reserved for federal purposes at the time public lands were reserved or withdrawn as that amount reasonably needed for the purpose of the reservation or withdrawal of the lands involved, (2) providing for compensation for water rights on non-federal interests taken for federal purposes, and (3) providing for creation of regional water commissions with equitable federal-state representation and adequate authority, is recommended.

Subject Headings: Water resources | Water rights | Federal government | Water management | Public policy | Laws | United States

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