Farmers, Fish, Tribal Power, and Poker: Reallocating Water in the Truckee River Basin, Nevada and California

10 U.C. HASTINGS, WEST-NORTHWEST: JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND POLICY 89, 2003

48 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2016

See all articles by Barbara A. Cosens

Barbara A. Cosens

University of Idaho - College of Law

Date Written: January 18, 2016

Abstract

The law governing allocation of water in the western United States has changed little in over 100 years. During that period both population and our understanding of the natural systems served by rivers have mushroomed. To meet growing urban needs and to reverse the environmental cost extracted from natural systems, the focus in water policy both globally and in the West is away from the twentieth century emphasis on water development and toward improvements in management, efficiency, and scientific understanding. These efforts are frequently at odds with the rigid law governing water allocation, leaving water policymakers and managers to find alternative routes to introduce sufficient flexibility into water management to address changing needs and values. In the effort to address modern problems, negotiation plays an increasingly important role. Basin-wide collaborative processes aimed at resolving allocation, restoration, water quality, and jurisdictional disputes are taking place on almost every major water basin in the West. The current ad hoc approach has given rise to a variety of processes thus providing a fertile ground for testing concepts for change. The growing use of negotiation to solve problems not adequately addressed by existing law may very well herald a new era for water distribution and management in the West, one tailored to the problems faced by specific water basins and structured around governance that mimics basin boundaries. This is Part II of a three Part series on the settlement of Native American water rights. In this part the author looks at settlement in the Great Basin where the threat of reallocation of water to meet the needs of endangered species and growing urban needs in the Truckee River Basin of California and Nevada gave rise to a negotiated plan governing operation of storage on the heavily developed river. By introducing flexible management to existing infrastructure, the Truckee River negotiations are overcoming substantial barriers to reallocation of water.

Keywords: Native American Water Settlement, reserved water rights, endangered species, water conflict resolution

Suggested Citation

Cosens, Barbara A., Farmers, Fish, Tribal Power, and Poker: Reallocating Water in the Truckee River Basin, Nevada and California (January 18, 2016). 10 U.C. HASTINGS, WEST-NORTHWEST: JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND POLICY 89, 2003, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2717820

Barbara A. Cosens (Contact Author)

University of Idaho - College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 442321
Moscow, ID 83844-2321
United States
208 885-6298 (Phone)
208 885-2859 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.uidaho.edu/law/people/faculty/bcosens

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