Maintaining the Status Quo: Protecting established water uses in the Pacific Northwest, despite the rules of prior appropriation

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Environmental Law, Vol: 28, Page: 881

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Benson, Reed D.
article description
Water law in the Northwest states has long been based on the well-established rules of the Prior Appropriation Doctrine. In recent years, however, the four Northwest states often have not applied these rules against existing water users. State legislatures, courts, and water resource agencies have routinely changed the rules, or refused to implement them, if doing so might curtail current uses. This Article examines the ways in which the Northwest states have maintained the water use status quo despite the traditional rules. The Article then evaluates the economic and environmental implications of state efforts to protect existing water uses, and assesses how these efforts may affect other water users.