Water Rights

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  • Water rights in the western United States are among the most continuously contentious areas of political life, as the region, with the exceptions of the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and Hawai'i, is characterized by aridity. The need for water pits rural agricultural interests against the continual expansion of urban and suburban areas in the region. It places American Indians against non-Indians in court litigation. In the East, aridity was not a problem, and farmers were able to grow crops without large waterworks. In the West, it was necessary to capture, store, and otherwise manipulate water to use it effectively. Thus, the riparian system of water rights in the East, in which all users along a waterway had a right to use the water, was not applicable ...

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