Even with the recent legislative success of the Great Lakes compact, interstate water management will be a pressing challenge for the next administration. A recent article in the American Bar Association’s Journal highlights two other regions in addition to the Great Lakes where interstate water management disputes have heated up.
The so-called tri-state water wars between Alabama, Florida and Georgia over the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin are being fought through litigation and political gamesmanship. The article quotes my good friend Prof. Robert Abrams of Florida A&M University on the way the states are handling the situation: “They still think they can maximize their own positions at the expense of the others. They haven’t thought about the needs of the basin as a whole.”
Out west, the Colorado River Compact between Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming has long been treated as if it were written in stone, when in fact it was written when the west was far wetter than it will likely ever be again. The article quotes another great colleague, Prof. Dan Tarlock of Chicago-Kent College of Law, that the Colorado River Compact may need to be revisited. “People used to say [the Colorado River Compact would be renegotiated] when pigs fly, but certainly global change will be forcing attention on the issue in a very real way.
In addition to interstate water management disputes, the article discusses the need for additional water law reforms, citing other leaders the field including Prof. Robert Glennon of the University of Arizona and Prof. Joe Dellapenna of Villanova. It’s worth a read for a glimpse of the water law challenges to come.