Interbasin transfers of water have become an increasingly popular water management tool—especially among the western states—to address vulnerability to water shortages in those regions susceptible to widely fluctuating drought conditions and population growth. Such transfers offer a practical resolution to the geographic limitations and disparate distribution of water availability. The regulatory frameworks for interbasin transfers adopted across western states, however, vary rather drastically in balancing the practicality of interbasin transfers with equity to the basin of origin. Like its counterparts, Texas has adopted an interbasin transfer statute—Texas Water Code § 11.085—that includes common elements of interbasin transfer regulations aimed at maintaining this balance, including protecting the basin of origin, requiring a distinct demonstration of purpose and need, maintaining existing water rights, and promoting the public interest. However, in comparison to other western states, Texas has a relatively strict framework for interbasin transfers that does not always facilitate the use of such transfers when it is otherwise pragmatic to do so. Policymakers and stakeholders in Texas should thus consider whether and to what extent the balance struck by interbasin transfer laws of other western states is appropriate for Texas and more conducive to using interbasin transfers as a water management strategy across the state.
Citation: Castleberry B, Acevedo A. 2017. Water barons for the water barren? A survey of interbasin water transfer laws in western states. Texas Water Journal. 8(1):29-41. Available from: https://doi.org/10.21423/twj.v8i1.7060.
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Copyright (c) 2017 Brad B. Castleberry, Ashleigh Acevedo