Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2002


The principal thesis of this article is that interstate water allocation matters. It matters because, absent allocation, states that want to conserve their water resources for either future intrastate use or for present in situ use are at risk of having sister states use that water in other inconsistent ways. Interstate allocation also matters because, if there is not a negotiated agreement, water use is sufficiently similar to a zero sum game in that there will be winners and losers and the winning strategy is easily identified. Under the most recent and detailed United States Supreme Court precedent, states engaged in present development and use of the water will win the greater entitlements. The goal of this article is to set forth the legal underpinnings of those conclusions and then suggest to states favoring present conservation and in situ uses how they can best avoid being the losers.