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The beneficial use doctrine refers to the principle of water management adopted by the western United States during a period of expansion during the 19th century. The California Gold Rush and other stimuli led to a rapid population increase in the western states that was plagued by little standing groundwater, among other features. The Beneficial Use Doctrine stipulates that land rights, which may be transferred or bought, are also accompanied by a right to water that exists on that property, insofar as any use of the water is beneficial and not wasted in any way, with the risk of forfeiture of those rights for individuals who fail to comply with that stipulation.

Challenges

The concept of beneficial use has remained in practice, although it has been challenged ...

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