Monday, March 17, 2014
The N.Y. Times chimes in on the increasing battles over water in the West:
Actually, the laws that govern most of the West’s water seem tailor-made for fighting.
In many places, the rules for owning or using groundwater are still in flux: In Texas, landowners own the groundwater beneath their property, but a neighbor pumping groundwater from the same aquifer can siphon it away without penalty. The Arizona court battle over a proposed housing development hinges on the still-murky question of whether the state can allow the builder to pump groundwater that sustains a river that is under federal control.
In contrast, the prevailing law on rivers and streams is all too clear: The earlier someone stakes a claim on a stretch of water, the more bulletproof that owner’s right to it.