Western Growth and Sustainable Water Use: If There are No 'Natural Limits' Should We Worry About Water Supplies?
A. Dan Tarlock
Chicago-Kent College of Law - Illinois Institute of Technology
Sarah B. Van de Wetering
University of Montana
Public Land and Resources Law Review, Vol. 27, pp. 33-74, 2006
Do the West's variable climate and rugged landscapes pose any "natural" limits to the region's continued rapid urban growth? This question has emerged directly and indirectly since the exploration of the Trans-Mississippi West. A persistent theme in the history (and, indeed, our under-standing of the prehistory) of the American West has been the question of what limits, if any, the region's arid and semiarid climates and harsh landscapes might impose on sustainable human settlement. This article examines the various ways in which the water limits question has surfaced on the western political agenda; the reasons it is reemerging today; legal and planning responses to perceived limits; the barriers that water, public utility, and land use law pose to using water availability as growth limitation strategy; and the water-land use linkage programs currently emerging in the region. It ends with a brief look at four individuals who dissented from the idea that there no "natural limits" to western growth, and compares their thinking to the current efforts to factor limits into urban growth.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 42
Keywords: western water, efficiency in water use, western water law, groundwater, water law, water rights, environmental protection, water supply planning, riparian rights, climate change
JEL Classification: K32
Date posted: July 18, 2013