Too Hot to Handle: Climate Change and Agricultural Water Use

This paper discusses the role of irrigated agriculture in the western United States.  Climate change in the west is expected to result in a more arid climate and therefore strain the already extended water uses in the region.  Because of climate change and other factors, the report suggests that all water uses, including long-standing agricultural water rights, need to be re-examined. The author questions the region’s continued use of most of its water for irrigation, and the appropriate role of federal and state policy makers in responding to this environmental challenge.

The report makes an argument that the law should adapt to the changing circumstances. It outlines how federal policy shapes the use of water, even when states have legal control over the allocation of water.  According to the analysis, the current legal system governing water use is complex, "favors the status quo", as well as the government can be a barrier to change.

This report can be found in the International Journal of Rural Law and Policy, 2011 Special Edition: Water Law: Through the Lens of Conflict.

Publication Date: November 16, 2011

Author or Affiliated User:

  • Denise Fort

Related Organizations:

  • University of New Mexico

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