10 WATER LAWS OF THE WEST
Introduction: It does not take a law degree to understand water law and policy in the western United States. Ten basic legal and historical principles govern the rights to and uses of water in the West. By understanding these ten Water Laws of the West anyone can then understand the current issues of water and its relationship to the future of the West.
I. The Law of Gravity: The First Water Law of the West is the Law of Gravity. Water runs down hill. The initial uses of water in the West involved the use of gravity to tap rivers and divert their flows into canals for delivery to farms and mines. This is also known as Newton's Law.
That was the teaser. For laws 2 - 9 I refer you to the authors website.
But # 10 and the conclusion, I thought I would share. - Devoish
X. The Law of Vanishing Civilizations: The Tenth (or Last) Water Law of the West should be called the Hohokam Law of Water and Gravity. Under this law, if there is no rain, there is no water to flow down hill. What went up--the buildings and the civilization--may crumble to dust if Mother Nature decides to hold a long drought. Lying beneath the streets of Phoenix are the ruins of the ancient Hohokam Indian metropolis that vanished prior to 1400 AD. Phoenix is the second city to be built on the same site in reliance on the erratic flows of the Salt River. Californians prayed for rain for the last six years (apparently successfully) because they didn't have enough water to flush their toilets. Many Southern Californians had been heard to ask "what do you mean this used to be a desert?"
Conclusion: The principles that govern Western water law and policy have a long and somewhat distinguished history. It should also be noted that similar arid environment ditch-dependent civilizations ultimately collapsed under extreme environmental stresses, internal political conflict, and invasion by barbarian hordes. This is worth contemplating after a six year drought with various water interests fighting over who will get water in times of future shortages while the streets of Santa Monica or Scottsdale are filled with RVs with New Jersey license plates. - Hugh Holub