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Water Wars: Solving Interstate Water Disputes Through Concurrent Federal Jurisdiction

November 2017

Citation: 47 ELR 10980

Issue: 11

Author: Catherine Danley

As climate change shifts precipitation patterns, warms seasonal temperatures, and causes severe droughts, the value of and demand for water rises. Consequently, competition for water resources is likely to increase among the states and lead to more Supreme Court original jurisdiction cases over water disputes than ever before. While the Court holds original jurisdiction under Article III of the Constitution, its exclusive jurisdiction over interstate disputes is a legislative construction, and should be altered to allow for an alternative process. Congress should amend 28 U.S.C. §1251(a) to establish an appellate process for original jurisdiction suits, so many eyes can monitor the many issues inherent in interstate water conflicts.

Catherine Danley is a J.D. candidate at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. This Article received honorable mention in the Environmental Law Institute’s 2016-2017 Henry L. Diamond Constitutional Environmental Law Writing Competition.

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