VOLUME 6 - 2013-2014 - ISSUE 2

Shaping Interstate Water Compacts To Meet the Realities of the Twenty-First Century

Connor B. Egan

6 Ky. J. Equine, Agric. & Nat. Resources L. 327 (2014).

Water will always be one of the world’s most vital resources and its regulation is integral to local, national, and international stability. In the United States alone, more than ninety-five percent of the Nation’s freshwater is “interstate in nature,” meaning shared among the states. Because water spans state borders, its regulation has resulted in interstate conflict.

Over the past century, demand for water has risen, while supply has decreased precipitously. The United States Bureau of Reclamation predicts that the Colorado River Basin, which spans seven states and supplies over forty million residents with water, will have a supply-demand imbalance of over three million acre-feet by the year 2060. This ominous prediction means that the Colorado River Basin will be unable to provide for its forty million dependents. This looming water scarcity stresses the immediate need for effective water resource governance.

Currently, interstate compacts govern the majority of the Nation’s interstate waters. An interstate compact is, in essence, a contract between states, which is given the effect of federal law. However, these compacts have proven to be an inefficient means of resolving interstate water conflict. This Note proposes the creation of a federal administrative board to oversee the implementation and regulation of interstate water compacts and to ensure efficient and equitable resolutions of interstate water disputes.