Appropriative Water Rights
“What is the driving force behind most water rights in the Western U.S?”
Water is much more scarce in the Western U.S than in the East. Many times water has to be taken from a source to be applied somewhere far away. This leads to conflict about who gets to divert the water and when. Before 1914, all one had to do was physically divert the water to use it! To regulate this, the U.S has established the concept of Appropriative Water Rights. Here, a potential water diverter has to apply to a state water resource control board to divert the water. The application must include where the water will be used, the time length of diversion, what purpose the water is being used for, and the type and point of diversion. People with older riparian rights trump those with newer ones.