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Departments & Programs


Law of the River: The Future of Interstate Compacts in the American West


  • Professor Barton “Buzz” Thompson, Special Master to the U.S. Supreme Court in Montana v. Wyoming 
  • Visiting Professor David Hayes, former Deputy Secretary of the Interior 
  • Visiting Professor Burke Griggs, Assistant Attorney General of Kansas

With only a few exceptions, most of the major river systems of the Western United States flow between more than one state. Because western water law is administered at the state level, disputes between the states over transboundary waters are overseen by the U.S. Supreme Court. Article I, Section 10 of the United States Constitution provides that interstate agreements or compacts must have the consent of Congress. Today, there are 26 interstate compacts most of which are found west of the 100th meridian. Because most of these treaties were negotiated decades ago, none could have anticipated some of the changing conditions that now affect their implementation – population shifts, economic transformation, new technologies, ecological concerns, climate change. How will these compacts hold up to these emerging influences? What does the future hold for managing transboundary rivers?

Water in the West and partners are pleased to sponsor an esteemed panel of experts to provide perspectives on the past, present, and future of interstate compacts in the management of rivers and water in the west.

Date and Time: 
Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 3:30pm