Brigham Young University Prelaw Review


Groundwater laws, water, resources, legislation


Water is a limited resource that cannot be replaced, and alternate sources for water are not available. In the western United States, groundwater laws vary in each state. Until recent years, these laws were often vague or non-existent. According to Sax, groundwater laws did not exist because little was known about the contribution of groundwater flow to the hydrologic cycle (1990, 372). When technology allowed man to tap underground water resources effectively, laws were written for groundwater. However, the laws governing surface water are related to groundwater laws. It was not until after World War II that most states began working furiously to develop groundwater laws (Beck and Clyde 1972, 414). Now as states are developing groundwater legislation and jurisprudence, there is a desperate need for simple but strict laws that have general applications. Utah, Arizona, and Colorado rely on groundwater for much of their water consumption. Provided below is a historical overview of water law for each of these states along with comparisons and contrasts of their groundwater laws. (A large part of the paper is devoted to Arizona's Groundwater Laws. The reason for this is that Arizona bas received more attention from groundwater experts and the media relative to the process of establishing its groundwater laws.)

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