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The Fight Over Colorado River Water Rights Is Just Beginning

Watch for states with skin in the game to lawyer up!

This is a Jan. 31 NPR story on the Colorado River and attempts to come to an agreement on use of its water: “7 states that rely on the Colorado River are up against a deadline for water cutbacks.”

California is the only holdout on tentatively signing on to the agreement.

We are just at the beginning of the legal battle over water rights in the West. Water rights are a critical element in the development of the West and all the parties are going to start to get squeezed. Farmers, cities, manufacturers and power providers are only some of the visible stakeholders. Imagine a time when cities freeze housing development because they can’t meet the water demands for the homes they already have. There will be screaming and shouting along with a drastic cut in the construction industry and jobs that feed much of a community’s resources/tax base.

Things will continue to get worse. I don’t know if there is a federal solution to the problem, likely not because of the legal rights that come from water rights.
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.