Water Resource Management and the Law
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Water Resource Management and the Law

Edited by Erkki J. Hollo

Scarcity of water, floods and erosion caused by climate change have made the management of water resources a challenge to national and international actors worldwide. States have also initiated water projects to improve social welfare, often with significant impacts on the environment. This book combines close analysis of the legal structures of water rights with consideration of the modes of water management projects to illustrate current water-related problems in terms of practical solutions in a global context.
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Chapter 11: Kansas v. Colorado: state sovereignty and the equitable allocation of water

Itzchak E. Kornfeld


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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