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Keywords:

  • water resources management;
  • water policy;
  • planning;
  • rivers/streams;
  • Federalism;
  • estuaries

Abstract:  This paper evaluates alternative approaches to management of interstate water resources in the United States (U.S.), including interstate compacts, interstate associations, federal-state partnerships, and federal-interstate compacts. These governance structures provide alternatives to traditional federalism or U.S. Supreme Court litigation for addressing problems that transcend political boundaries and functional responsibilities. Interstate compacts can provide a forum for ongoing collaboration and are popular mechanisms for allocating water rights among the states. Federal-interstate compacts, such as the Delaware River Basin Compact and federal-state partnerships, such as the National Estuary Program, are also effective and complementary approaches to managing water resources. However, all of these approaches can only make modest improvements in managing water resources given the complicated and fragmented nature of our federalist system of government.