The Emerging Revolution in Groundwater Rights

Tuesday, December 4, 2018: 8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m.
N205-208 (Las Vegas Convention Center)
Groundwater rights are in the midst of a revolution. Courts, legislatures and administrative agencies are making significant changes to legal doctrines. This presentation will focus on two major issues that are impacting groundwater rights and the groundwater industry: exempt wells and federal reserved water rights. Although both of these issues began in the western United States, the concepts and effects are both spreading to the east as well.

Exempt wells refer to domestic, agricultural or low capacity wells that receive a lesser level of regulation. This regime exists mainly, but not solely, in prior appropriation states. Due to concerns about cumulative effects of many exempt wells, these water withdrawals are receiving increased scrutiny and regulation.

Federal reserved water rights automatically attach to lands reserved by the federal government, like Indian reservations and conservation areas. Federal courts recently found that groundwater comes within the ambit of federal reserved water rights.

Jesse J. Richardson Jr., J.D.
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