Winter's Doctrine: A Review

by John W. Bird, (M.ASCE), Assoc. Prof.; Civ. Engrg. Dept., Univ. of Nevada, Reno, Nev.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Irrigation and Drainage Division, 1977, Vol. 103, Issue 4, Pg. 395-400

Document Type: Journal Paper


The western states are areas of short water supply. In general, they apply the water law doctrine of appropriation that relates a water right to the time or date that the right started. The Federal government has applied for water rights at a much later time, but with an early appropriation date. This would give the Federal agencies priority over the existing water users, many of which have been beneficially using the water for years. Since the Federal agencies apparently have decided, through the courts, their ability to act unilaterally in this matter, it is apparent that guidance from the Congress is sorely needed in this matter. Otherwise the state's water laws shall be greatly weakened, along with state water planning and policy.

Subject Headings: Federal government | Winter | Water rights | Water use | Laws

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