Interbasin Transfers of Water in Ogallala States

by Dean T. Massey, US Dep of Agriculture, Natural, Resource Economics Div, Madison, WI, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Development and Management Aspects of Irrigation and Drainage Systems


Water rights to enable a major interbasin transfer can be obtained either through an initial appropriation or by acquiring an existing water right. All unappropriated surface water in the eight Ogallala Aquifer states and unappropriated ground water in five of those states is public property; ground water in two is private, and ownership in one is unresolved. Ease of interbasin transfer depends upon attachment of water rights to the land and their severability. Most water rights for irrigation purposes are attached to the land. Water rights are most easily severed from the land if the primary prerequisite is that the change in location of use will not impair rights of existing users at the originating basin. More difficulty is present when the applicant must prove that it has become impractical to beneficially or economically use the water on land in the originating basin.

Subject Headings: Basins | Water management | Water shortage | Water resources | Water rights | Private sector | Economic factors | Groundwater

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