Edited by Erkki J. Hollo
Chapter 11: Kansas v. Colorado: state sovereignty and the equitable allocation of water
This chapter discusses a transboundary dispute adjudicated by the United States Supreme Court, Kansas v. Colorado. It involved a problem that has bedeviled the American west for over one hundred years: the apportionment of river water, mostly for irrigation purposes in a desert to semi-desert environment. Kansas v. Colorado demonstrates the competing interests of sovereignty, in the guise of water allocation between the state-litigants over water. The dispute also demonstrates the lengths to which states situated in the arid west will go for a greater share of the existing pool of water. The Court’s solution was an equitable remedy: equitable apportionment, which weighs each sovereign’s use or development of the transboundary stream. Accordingly, no sovereign, whether an upstream or downstream riparian, has the right to destroy or severely impact the interest of other riparian states. This appetite for the allocation of water is not limited to the United States. Keywords: Chapter 11 (Kornfeld): Equitable allocation of water, state sovereignty, dispute settlement, Kansas v. Colorado case, water basin, riparian rights
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