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Background and Trends in Water Salvage Law

Robert Emmet Clark, Proceedings of 15th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1969)

The title of this discussion, Developed and Salvaged Water, as it appeared in the notices for this Institute,1 can be treated either as a narrow, or as an amorphous, topic. I choose the latter view. But the title was not meant to be misleading. It was assigned to me, and you will notice that I have changed it somewhat. However, the original title joined two important terms, developed and salvaged. Both have new significance in these times. The old definitions are not very helpful because they have been misapplied or they describe or include other classes or categories of water. Such terms as waste water, leakage, drainage, seepage, excess water, return water, and project ground water (from both public projects and private lands) are frequently used interchangeably in disputes over salvaged or developed water. Surface water and springs, or pumped ground water, may also be the original sources of these categories. What is apparent, is that the law's traditional classification of water has limited usefulness in a new, overall view of management of all available water supplies. We already know that we must husband supplies more carefully [422] and also augment them wherever possible no matter what classification is employed.
The legal classification of water has received considerable criticism2 in the past. It will receive more in the next few paragraphs. However, the central