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Keywords:

  • Endangered Species Act;
  • Methow Valley;
  • water allocation

Abstract:

Water allocation in the United States generally occurs through state administrative processes. Compliance with Federal legislative initiatives, however, can require the reallocation of water resources. Laws enacted to achieve protection of environmental, wildland and wildlife resources have increasingly played a role in the allocation of water, particularly in the West. This Article examines Washington's Methow Valley as a case study in which efforts to recover threatened and endangered aquatic species have achieved reallocations of water resources to protect environmental values. After a brief outline of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and its requirements, it examines how the ESA's consultation process requires private irrigators to limit water withdrawal to meet the biological and reproductive needs of ESA listed species. Constitutional constraints on legislative reallocation stemming from the U.S. Constitution's “Takings” clause are also discussed as an important limit on this power.