DENVER—The United States Supreme Court in a unanimous decision today upheld the language of an interstate compact between Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana governing the states’ rights to water from an interstate river. The Court ruled that because it did not have explicit authority to do so under the compact, a Texas water district could not cross state lines to appropriate water from within Oklahoma’s borders. Today’s ruling reaffirms the importance of the many interstate water compacts to which Colorado is a party and ensures that state water rights will be predictably governed by these compacts into the future.
The Colorado Attorney General authored a friend of the court brief on behalf of the states of Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The Court’s opinion effects the position advocated by Colorado’s brief.
Attorney General John W. Suthers issued the following statement in response:
“The decision today by the U.S. Supreme Court preserves the critical system for how interstate water compacts have rightly worked for decades. The Tarrant position threatened to upset agreements that Colorado and other states rely on to apportion scarce natural resources, which is what prompted our involvement.
Colorado sought to defend the longstanding and important proposition that states’ ‘power to control public uses of water,’ is an essential attribute of state sovereignty. I am quite gratified that the Court found states possess an absolute right to all their navigable waters and soils under them for their own common use.”
The Attorney General would like to publicly express sincere appreciation for the work by the extremely talented team who worked on this case: Fred Yarger, Karen Kwon, Casey Shpall, Shanti Rosset O’Donovan and Solicitor General Daniel Domenico.
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