Kansas v. Colorado

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In Kansas v. Colorado, 543 U.S. 86 (2004), a nearly unanimous U.S. Supreme Court held in favor of Colorado in its long-running dispute over water with Kansas.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the decision. He described the matter as follows:

We again consider a long-running water dispute between Colorado and Kansas. The water is that of the Arkansas River, once proudly called the "Nile of America." The river originates high in the Rocky Mountains. It runs eastward through Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, before joining the Mississippi near the town of Arkansas Post. For decades, Kansas and Colorado disagreed about the division of its upper waters. See Kansas v Colorado, 206 U.S. 46, 51 L. Ed. 956, 27 S. Ct. 655 (1907); Colorado v Kansas, 320 U.S. 383, 88 L. Ed. 116, 64 S. Ct. 176 (1943). In 1949, they entered into an interstate compact. See Arkansas River Compact (Compact), 63 Stat 145 (agreeing to "[e]quitably divide and apportion" the waters (internal quotation marks omitted)). But the disagreements have persisted.
Present proceedings began in 1985, when Kansas charged that Colorado had violated the Compact.

The Court adopted the recommendations of a Special Master against Kansas.

Because this dispute was between two states, the U.S. Supreme Court had original jurisdiction.

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