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Western Growth and Sustainable Water Use: If There are No 'Natural Limits' Should We Worry About Water Supplies?

Public Land and Resources Law Review, Vol. 27, pp. 33-74, 2006

42 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2013  

A. Dan Tarlock

Chicago-Kent College of Law - Illinois Institute of Technology

Sarah B. Van de Wetering

University of Montana

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

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.

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

Suggested Citation

Tarlock, A. Dan and Van de Wetering, Sarah B., Western Growth and Sustainable Water Use: If There are No 'Natural Limits' Should We Worry About Water Supplies? (2006). Public Land and Resources Law Review, Vol. 27, pp. 33-74, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1726132

A. Dan Tarlock (Contact Author)

Chicago-Kent College of Law - Illinois Institute of Technology ( email )

565 West Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60661
United States
(312) 906-5217 (Phone)
(312) 906-5280 (Fax)

Sarah B. Van de Wetering

University of Montana

Missoula, MT 59812
United States

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