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United States v. Truckee-Carson Irrigation Dist.

Citation: 35 ELR 20236
No. Nos. 04-16032, -16033, (9th Cir., 11/21/2005)

The court holds that although a Native American tribe may change the use of their water rights established under a 1944 federal court decree from irrigation use to instream use, it may not apply the transportation loss portion of those rights to the new use. The decree provides that the amount allocated to transportation loss is only an "estimated" one, which can be increased or decreased as conditions demand, and the estimates are based on the assumption that the water will be used for irrigation. The tribe's transportation loss right is thus inseparable from the actual conditions of irrigation, and the transportation loss component of the right becomes irrelevant when, as here, water is transferred to a use that does not involve transportation loss.