Water Scarcity: Impacts on Western Agriculture by Ernest A. Engelbert

By Ernest A. Engelbert

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In a symbolic act, meant to signal the end of the Bureau's mission of large-scale construction, the Carter Administration stripped the Agency of its name, and for a period of three years it was called the Water and Power Resources Service. The failure of the Carter Administration to achieve its aims in water resources has been popularly recognized as a defeat for environmentalists, while the decline of the federal government's influence in water has received less notice. An important dimension of the water conflict lurked behind the headlines of the time—a struggle between the states and the federal government over their respective influence and roles in water allocation.

Two interstate compacts—the Colorado River Compact of 1922, and the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact of 1948— together control allocations between the upper and lower parts of the basin and between the seven states of the basin, subject to unresolved claims relating to federal and Indian "reserved" water rights. 25 MAF less each year than originally planned. That kind of shortfall raises the level of competition between agriculture and other uses. The 1922 Colorado River Compact contains a pro-agricultural bias, declaring domestic and agricultural use to be superior to the generation of electricity.

Many of the observations made earlier about the role the prior appropriation doctrine plays under declining water conditions apply to groundwater systems as well. Groundwater rights likewise are property rights; generally they are transferable and enforceable against impairment. 100. John Muir Institute ― 62 ― overlying agriculture. [8] Political Institutions and Changing Patterns of Influence The reclamation era of large-scale water resource development was dominated by the federal government.

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