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Water Transfers Across State Systems

Richard A. Simms and Jennifer Davis, Proceedings of 31st Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1985)

Perhaps the quickest way to put the problem in perspective is by reference to a pitcher of San Diego water. Ninety percent of that water did not come from the ground and surface supplies naturally available in the greater San Diego area.1 It originated in seven statesfrom the Little Snake [22-2] Yampa, White, and Gunnison Rivers in Colorado, the Black Fork and Green Rivers in Wyoming, the Duchesne, Green, and Virgin Rivers in Utah, from the Little Colorado and Bill Williams Rivers in Arizona, from New Mexico, Nevada, and a small part of Californiagathering along 1,500 miles of the mainstream Colorado River and moving through an additional 240 miles of aqueduct. Historically, 90% of the water has traveled through 63 years of negotiation, litigation, and intense and heated political struggle. Legally, it has been filtered through the Colorado River Compact of 1922,2 the Boulder Canyon Project Act of 1928,3 the California Limitation Act of 1929,4 the Seven Party Agreement of 1931,5 the Mexican Treaty of 1944,6 the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact of 1948,7 the 1964 Decree in Arizona v. California,8 and the Colorado River Basin Project Act of 1968.9 Luckily, so far, it has eluded Indian reservations, national forests and national monuments, the navigation servitude,10 the National Wild and Scenic River Act of 1966,11 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the treatymaking,12