Tag Archives: Water Courts

WATER COURTS-RESOLVING STATE RESOURCE DISPUTES WITH EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION

In recent news reports we have learned about the contamination of public water sources in West Virginia, and have been alerted to the potential impact of climate change on local water supplies.   Who ultimately decides disputes involving the protection, access and consumption of state water resources?

Generally, state courts have jurisdiction over local water rights created by state law.  State agencies with environmental and natural resources oversight further regulate water use and consumption policy in compliance with state law.   Conflicts involving water on reserved Federal and Indian land are resolved by negotiation and compact with state, federal and tribal authorities.… Read More

Water Courts – What are They?

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Although not found in all jurisdiction, Water Courts perform an interesting judicial service where present. These courts which exist in states including Montana and Colorado generally handle matters concerning water rights.

The set up of a Water Court will vary by jurisdiction. In Montana, there is only one Water Court which serves the entire state. However, within the one Water Court are four divisions. According to state law, these divisions are based the “natural divides between drainages and the borders of the state of Montana.” The four divisions are the Yellow Stone River Basin, the Lower Missouri River Basin, … Read More