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Events

The history of Colorado's water conflicts

February 4, 2011

The Water Resources Archive invites you to reflect upon the unique history of Colorado's water litigation disputes. The exhibit is on display at the Morgan Library now through March 23.

A landmark caseThe 1939-1942 construction of John Martin Dam and Reservoir prompted negotiations for the 1949 Arkansas River Compact. <i>From the Papers of Arthur L. Littleworth</i>

In the first of his five reports during the 1985-2009 Kansas v. Colorado Supreme Court case, Special Master Arthur L. Littleworth wrote that the Arkansas River Compact of 1948 did not “achieve the lasting peace desired by those who negotiated that agreement.”

Reflecting on the most recent case guides us to the question: what led to this interstate litigation? Letters, memoranda, Supreme Court reports, and other archival documents can help lead us to the answers.

Resolving water litigation

The past century saw numerous Supreme Court cases meant to resolve water rights disputes, especially in the western United States. Such litigation is expensive and can take years, if not decades, to finish. In the 1920s, Delph E. Carpenter proposed that individual states could negotiate compacts to resolve and prevent interstate water disputes without costly litigation. Since then, several western states have negotiated and ratified compacts about many interstate streams.

A new exhibit, Achieving a Lasting Peace?: Reflecting on Conflicts, Courts, and Compacts, discusses changes in western water law through the lens of the Arkansas River basin, which was the focus of the recent Supreme Court case Kansas v. Colorado.

Travel through 110 years of history

The Water Resources Archive at Colorado State University invites you to travel back through 110 years of conflict about the West’s most precious resource. The Archives Department, located in Suite 202 of Morgan Library, is open from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The exhibit is on display now through March 23, 2011.


Contact: Jane Barber
E-mail: jane.barber@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-5712