Professor Benson reviews the Report on Columbia River water withdrawals and their effects on salmon recently issued by the National Academy of Sciences to the Washington State Department of Ecology, the agency responsible for managing Washingtons water withdrawals from the Columbia and its tributaries. After reviewing the Report, Professor Benson compares its recommendations with western water law's doctrine of prior appropriation and finds that many of the Report's recommendations are in direct conflict with prior appropriation principles. Finally, Professor Benson discusses the potential impact of the Report on water law in Washington and throughout the West. He concludes that, because the National Academy of Sciences is a highly respected research organization, despite the conflict between the Report's recommendations and traditional western water law, the Report appears to be guiding Washington in its formulation of new water withdrawal policies and may guide other states' policies in the future.
Reed D. Benson,
The Supreme Court of Science Speaks on Water Rights: The National Academy of Sciences Columbia River Report and Its Water Policy Implications,
Available at: https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/law_facultyscholarship/351