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date: 03 December 2022

Water Federalism in the United States of Americafree

Water Federalism in the United States of Americafree

  • Rebecca F.A. BernatRebecca F.A. BernatThe University of Arizona
  •  and Sharon B. MegdalSharon B. MegdalUniversity of Arizona


Water governance in the United States has followed a water federalism system, in which government functions are shared between federal and state authorities. Water federalism is the sharing of governance across different levels of government over freshwater quantity (water quantity federalism) and quality (water quality federalism). These terms have evolved throughout different eras of U.S. history. Initially, water federalism involved water quantity federalism only, and both state and federal governments had management prerogatives. The 1922 Colorado River Compact and the 1944 U.S. and Mexico Treaty are examples of a combination of horizontal and vertical federalisms. Then, the 1970s marked significant changes in water federalism. First, states regained control over water resources management. Second, water quality federalism arose as a subset of, and at the same time as, environmental federalism. The 1972 Clean Water Act is an example of cooperative federalism, which was commonly used to refer to environmental federalism. In the 21st century, a variety of environmental federalism frameworks have been offered to address the negative effects of climate change on water resources as well as other environmental issues. The contemporary literature on environmental federalism encompasses water quantity and water quality federalism. Throughout history, the role of American Indian tribal primacy has been overlooked in the water federalism literature. Another layer of government, the American Indian tribal government, should be included in discussing states versus federal water management prerogatives. Overall, new water quality and water quantity federalisms must be developed using institutional, sociocultural, and economic principles of good governance that foster a more inclusive, participatory, democratic, and engaged form of federalism.


  • Management and Planning


Water in the United States is managed according to multiple governance entities that administrate water quantity and water quality. The governance of the United States in general has followed a somewhat unique system known as federalism, which was established through the country’s constitution in 1789. Within this model, government functions are shared between the federal and state governments so that neither of them may independently change the system (Hooghe et al., 2020).

Water governance and federalism are intertwined. Drawing from Megdal et al. (2015, p. 678), water governance is “the overarching framework of [water] use laws, regulations, and customs, as well as the processes of engaging the public sector, the private sector, and the civil society.” Therefore, water federalism is the sharing of governance across different levels of government over freshwater quantity (water quantity federalism) and quality (water quality federalism). This article draws on the fields of natural resources, water policy, environmental law, political science, and sustainability to contribute to the U.S. federalism and governance literatures by defining two new concepts: water quantity federalism and water quality federalism.

Water federalism has not always been employed in the literature, although water quantity federalism has always existed in U.S. history. Description of topics related to water quality federalism emerged in the 1970s. Thomas (1971) wrote his political science dissertation, entitled “Policy-Making in the American Federal System: Intergovernmental Responses to Water Problems in Arizona,” wherein he discussed both the topics of water and federalism, although he did not employ the term water federalism. Similarly, Matheson (1991), a former Utah governor, used (but did not define) the wording water federalism in a speech given at the Soil and Water Conservation Society. Then Robert H. Abrams ventured to define water federalism as “a doctrine that has varied overtime” and whose principles “begin with the recognition of state law water allocation” in the article entitled “Water Federalism and the Army Corps of Engineers’ Role in Eastern States Water Allocation” (Abrams, 2008, pp. 395–397). However, the concepts of water quantity federalism and water quality federalism remain to be defined.

Evolution of Water Federalism in U.S. History

Water Federalism Throughout U.S. History

One difficulty arising in accurately developing a definition of water federalism is that the concept and its underlying principles have changed over time. For example, scholars have described different eras of power dynamics between federal and state governments (Abrams, 2010; Gerlak, 2005; Thompson, 1997). Figure 1 shows the evolution of water federalism since the first states joined the United States. Initially, water federalism involved water quantity federalism only. In the 1970s, water quality federalism arose as a subset of, and at the same time as, environmental federalism. In the 21st century, water quantity federalism is discussed under the environmental federalism umbrella because the lack of water is a consequence of environmental issues like climate change. Water quantity federalism and water quality federalism have coexisted independently ever since in a variety of public policy and academic discussions.

Figure 1. Eras of water federalism in U.S. history.

Source: Rebecca Bernat, Water Resources Research Center.
The First Era (18th–19th Centuries): State–Federal Government Coexistence

The first period of water federalism involved a coexistence between the federal government and the states, during which time the concept applied to the management of water sources in terms of quantity only. In 1791, the 10th Amendment of the Constitution reserved to new states the right to manage their waters (Abrams, 2010). Nevertheless, constitutional powers over the management of water resources were granted to the U.S. government.

Waterbodies, such as rivers, streams, and lakes, were designated as either navigable or nonnavigable. Navigable waters are bodies of water whose channels may be used for commerce purposes (Black, 1979); they are otherwise nonnavigable. Under the commerce clause in the U.S. Constitution, jurisdiction over navigable waters belongs to the federal government because of interstate and international commercial interests in navigation (Abrams, 2010; Adler, 2010; Starr, 2013). Under the property clause, Congress may disregard conflicting state water laws on federal land in favor of the federal government (Abrams, 2010) on both navigable and nonnavigable waters. It was not until the federal government acquired the Louisiana Territory (Louisiana Purchase, 1803), Alaska (Seward’s Ice Box, 1867), and part of the Southwest (Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 1848) that the property clause started to threaten state sovereignty (Abrams, 2010). This purchase represents 35% of modern U.S. territory (, 2018, 2019, 2020). Given that a significant amount of water is found on federal land, these purchases granted the federal government more power over water management (Abrams, 2010), which obviously began to complicate questions of the legal sovereignty of individual states.

The Second Era (1902–1978): Outcomes of the Newlands Reclamation Act

The second era of water federalism is characterized by a shift that gave more power to the federal government. For Thompson (1997), this period began in 1902 when the Newlands Reclamation Act marked the beginning of the development of dams by two federal agencies, the Army Corps of Engineering and the Bureau of Reclamation. The goals of these agencies were to produce hydropower and to divert and distribute water in the West (Walston, 1979). Reisner (1986) produced an oft-cited critique of these two federal entities for their rivalry in building countless dams until the 1960s. With the Newlands Reclamation Act of 1902, the federal government authorized funding for numerous western irrigation projects (Percival, 2002). During this period, Congress initially recognized the state control over water but extended federal control over water stored by dams (Walston, 1979). In 1944, the Flood Control Act allowed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expand its activities (Abrams, 2010). In 1958, the Water Supply Act authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to distribute unallocated state water stored by a dam by releasing water for municipal use or supporting downstream navigation (Abrams, 2010).

While the federal government used its supremacy throughout this period, states fought to control the use of their water resources. Indeed, in drafting section 8 of the Newlands Reclamation Act, the western representatives had argued that “control should rest with the states rather than the federal government, and that the federal government should acquire its water rights for the projects in the same manner as private water users; because the western states traditionally had controlled the acquisition of water rights and the allocation of their waters, they should exercise the same control over water developed under the federal reclamation program” (Walston, 1979, pp. 1648–1650). The importance of section 8 in the Newlands Reclamation Act has been widely discussed, such as by Amy K. Kelley (1984), and its implications have been tremendous. For example, when the federal government decided to use unappropriated water necessary for a federal reclamation project at the New Melones Dam in California without complying with state law, the Supreme Court ruled in 1978 in favor of California’s prior appropriation law and required the United States to apply for a permit: “In keeping with the tradition of federalism underlying section 8, the Court balanced and harmonized federal and state interests rather than promulgated a pervasive federal supremacy” (Walston, 1979, p. 1680). This Supreme Court verdict established a precedent, protecting state control over water resources management.

The Third Era (the 1970s–2000): Emergence of Environmental Policies

The third era of water federalism is distinguished by the emergence of water quality federalism. Before this period, the federal government expressed significant concern over the need for environmental laws, and water quality control, all of which they viewed as state duties. For their part, Congress attempted but ultimately failed to address water quality in waterways with the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (Glicksman, 2006; Percival, 2002) and the Water Quality Act of 1965 (Glicksman, 2006). Scholars have disputed the fact that the Rivers and Harbors Act was less a pollution control measure as an effort to make sure debris and other wastes did not affect navigation (Franz, 2009). The enforcement of the Water Quality Act was limited to interstate waters (Dunkelberger, 1970). As such, state action was ineffective (Andrews, 2018; Percival, 2002) despite the constant chorus of state’s rights discourse.

Environmental federalism emerged not from a single event, but rather from a series of national laws, such as the Clean Air Act (1967), Clean Water Act (CWA, 1972), Endangered Species Act (1973), and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA, 1974) (Sovacool, 2008). These environmental laws included water quality laws, and therefore, water quality federalism emerged as a subset of environmental federalism. For instance, to address water quality issues from point-source pollution, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set water quality standards and supervised the states (Kerr, 2014) to regulate water discharge permits in compliance with the CWA. Richard N. L. Andrews (2018, p. 1) argued that the CWA “changed the United States’ approach to federalism by authorizing new powers for the federal government to set national minimum environmental standards and regulatory frameworks with the states mandated to participate in their implementation and compliance.” States cannot have water quality standards below that established by the federal government but can have more stringent requirements.

The Fourth Era (the 1990s–21st Century): New Federalism Amid Climate Change Policies

The fourth period of water federalism is marked by the need to tackle 21st-century challenges brought by climate change, which has modified the hydrological cycle. Arid areas are becoming drier, which may trigger water shortages; wet areas are becoming wetter, which may induce floods (Masson-Delmotte et al., 2021; Overpeck & Cole, 2006). Environmental federalism encompasses not only water quality federalism but also water quantity federalism and other questions about the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. The environmental federalism discussed in the 21st-century literature has tended to be broader to address the emerging range of issues involved in climate change. At the same time, policy changes will be complex because they will include other sectors, such as energy resources. Craig (2010) has anticipated a growing role of the federal government in water management, partly because energy resources, like hydro and nuclear power, require water to operate. And as arid regions look to supplement their supplies, energy-intensive large-scale seawater desalination has emerged as a policy preference in places like California and Arizona, and with it accompanies a number of environmental and legal issues that are implicated in these debates (O’Neill, 2020). Climate change represents pressing questions that may need to be handled broadly. Abrams (2010) has expressed concern about returning to the second water federalism era mostly marked by federal supremacy.

Varieties and Applications of Water Federalism: Context and Review of Select Case Studies

Different types of federalism exist. At the extreme on the federalism spectrum is centralized federalism, which grants federal government supremacy, while on the other end lies decentralized federalism, which grants state supremacy. Three other frameworks of federalism are particularly applicable to water federalism: cooperative, horizontal, and vertical.

Cooperative Federalism: The Case of the Clean Water Act

Cooperative federalism has been extensively described and analyzed. For instance, Black’s Law Dictionary, widely used in the United States, defines only one type of federalism—cooperative federalism, which is “the distribution of power between national and local or state governments while each recognizes the power of the other” (Black, 1979). Cooperative federalism created levels of government interaction (Kincaid, 1990; Rabe, 2011) but not a division of function (Schapiro, 2011). Cooperative federalism revolves around the idea of shared authority (Engel, 2006; Glicksman, 2006; Kincaid, 1990; Weiser, 2000, 2003) and collaboration between state and federal agencies (Dunn & Boian, 2013). The roles of the federal and state governments overlap and work synergistically (Craig, 2010). The benefits of cooperative federalism are to avoid the pitfalls of a wholly decentralized or centralized system (Malloy, 2011).

Water quality federalism follows a cooperative federalism framework. Water quality federalism emerged with laws like the CWA to address surface water quality issues and triggered the cooperative federalism framework (Abrams, 2008, 2010; Adler, 2010; Benson, 2006; Craig, 2010; Engel, 2020). As Kristen H. Engel (2020, p. 207) explained:

Cooperative federalism refers to an arrangement of power-sharing seen in many federal laws, but especially environmental laws, where Congress, in the exercise of its Commerce Clause authority, provides for federal regulation of a given area but offers the states the power to implement federal standards and, in many situations, to exercise significant control over the means by which they implement federal standards.

In cooperative federalism, the state’s role is to implement and enforce statutes and regulations. At the same time, the federal government acknowledges state autonomy (Dunn & Boian, 2013) by allowing states to impose stricter quality standards than required by the CWA (Andreen, 2016). Furthermore, it is the prerogative of the states to restrict nonpoint source pollution (Adler, 2010), such as contaminated agricultural runoff, because it is unenforceable under the CWA.

The cooperative federalism framework for water quality federalism has drawbacks though. In the context of the CWA for example, the EPA is in charge of defining key policy goals and regulatory tools. Rabe (2001) warned this approach might lead to “centralized federalism” that they described as “coercive federalism.” Moreover, the CWA was enforced thanks to a federally funded construction grant program, “the largest public works program in the country” (Andreen, 2016). As funding for sewage treatment declined (Andreen, 2016), the “cooperative federalism relationship began to fragment” (Dunn & Boian, 2013, p. 70).

Hybrid Horizontal and Vertical Federalisms: The Case of the Colorado River Compact and the United States and Mexico Treaty

Two other federalism frameworks apply to water management: horizontal and vertical federalisms. Horizontal federalism represents synergies between same-level authorities, such as states or countries. Vertical federalism, however, represents state and federal interactions. The creation of the Colorado River Compact in 1922 is an example of a combination, or a certain hybridization, of these two types of federalism. A compact is a (horizontal) legal agreement between states that requires the (vertical) approval of Congress (Nye, 2011). The Colorado River Compact was created to divide and allocate water from the Colorado River. Because the states located in the Colorado River Basin could not initially agree on how to divide the water, the federal government suggested dividing it among the Upper Colorado River Basin—Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and a small part of Arizona—and the Lower Colorado River Basin—California, Arizona, and Nevada. This compact allocated half (more than 9 billion cubic meters) of the annual estimated flow on the Colorado River to each basin. These states relinquished some of their water sovereignty (Nye, 2011) by agreeing to divide the quantity of water on the Colorado River. This agreement needed federal approval to be enacted, hence its vertical dimension.

The Colorado River Compact of 1922 failed to allocate water to the Republic of Mexico, although it is located on the Colorado River Basin. In 1944, a treaty between the two countries (United States Government, 1944) was enacted to allow Mexico to receive and divert 1.85 billion cubic meters annually from the Colorado River. Furthermore, the binational Minute 242 established water quality standard by requiring the United States to limit the salinity of the Colorado River delivered to Mexico (International Boundary and Water Commission, 1973). Wilder et al. (2020) discuss the salinity dispute that culminated in the creation of Minute 242. These international agreements are other examples of horizontal federalism.

Moving Forward With Best Water-Federalism Practices

There are advantages and drawbacks regarding whether water should be managed at the federal or state level. This dichotomy, however, does not provide solutions to urgent topical matters, such as water for Native Nations and mitigating the consequences of climate change. A variety of environmental federalism frameworks have been offered to address some of these issues. Regardless of their names, new water quantity and quality federalisms should be developed using principles of good governance.

Deference to States vs. Protection of National Interests

Advocates for decentralized federalism argue that power and responsibility should not be given to the federal government but devolved to states. Advocates for centralized federalism assume that the federal government is best suited to address environmental problems.

Arguments for State Supremacy

Those who support state control argue that proximity is key to managing water in terms of both quantity and quality, rather than a “one size fits all policy.” The varied landscapes and biomes of the United States offer diverse freshwater sources: glaciers, groundwater, and surface water, such as in rivers and lakes. Therefore, the disparity in freshwater supplies makes water resources management complex and unique to each state. Matheson (1991) has argued that addressing the most immediate challenges was more effective on a small scale. Decentralized water quantity federalism promotes stakeholders’ and local water managers’ involvement (Abrams, 2008), for example, by engaging grassroots organizations. Another example is the fact that testing and treatment of contaminants in areas where they have not been found (Scheberle, 1998; Sovacool, 2008) or in small facilities (Oates, 2002) is a misuse of financial governmental resources.

Those who support state control argue that water quality is better managed at the local level for cost reasons. Ceplo and Yandle (1997, p. 226) claimed that the benefits of receiving drinking water should only go to those who paid for treatment costs. Another argument these authors have made is that environmental stewardship for water quality regulation may incentivize states to boost economic growth (Ceplo & Yandle, 1997).

Arguments for Federal Supremacy

Those who advocate for centralized federalism assume that the federal government is best suited to address water quantity issues for practical reasons. Because the federal government owns many water facilities, it should control the water (Abrams, 2008). Also, giving control to the federal government is more practical to address national and international transboundary water issues (Sovacool, 2008).

As far as the management of water in terms of quality is concerned, the federal government has the advantage of bringing uniformity for regulation regarding concerns of distributive justice, which can avoid the race to the bottom (Ceplo & Yandle, 1997; Sovacool, 2008). Here, the term “race to the bottom” refers to a decrease in state environmental standards. Although, Engel (1996) argued that the negative consequences of the race to the bottom in states depends on the theoretical tradition followed.

Caveats of Federalism: Lack of Inclusion of Native Nation’s Water

The role of American Indian tribal primacy in the context of water federalism has been overlooked in the literature. Primarily, this is an issue because water quantity federalism systems have failed to honor Native American claims to their water. Indeed, by conceding to states the right to manage water, the Constitution overlooked the rights of Native Americans. And yet, the post 21st-century water federalism literature has not well examined Native Nation sovereignty. Therefore, a new water quantity federalism framework should take into account different governance levels. To that end, instead of focusing on the typical federal-state conflict over water resources, at least two other levels should be addressed. First, because Native Nations have to abide by federal rules, there is centralized federalism exercised on Native Nations, and this point should be investigated. Second, because states like Arizona are participating in several settlements of Native Nation water claims (Bark & Jacobs, 2009) the relationship between states and Native Nations should be examined too.

Craig (2020) said that the increasing role of tribes in managing water resources requires articulation in the literature. Focusing on American Indian tribal water primacy can also help find solutions to water problems because Native Nations’ water stewardship can be a model of best practices. Indeed, from 1987 to 2021, the majority of the 62 tribal governments that had been implementing the CWA in their water treatment facilities by themselves were successful (Haider & Teodoro, 2021). Native Nations have developed adaptive water strategies over the years and are an example of resilience (Chief et al., 2014, 2021).

Developing New Federalism Frameworks in Water

New Water Federalism to Address Climate Change

Climate change is one of the major water challenges that the 21st century faces. Climate change is also a federalism issue (Craig, 2020). As a result, a new water federalism framework is needed to address the consequences of climate change (Fischman, 2005; Gerlak, 2005; Howard, 2011; Schapiro, 2011; Sovacool, 2008). Adler (2010) argued that involving the federal government to deal with climate change consequences on water resources is a much needed step and also indicated that climate change had created a mismatch between a decreasing water supply and increasing economic growth-driven water demand. He, therefore, called for a reform of outdated legal regimes like the prior appropriation system. Other authors have begun to recommend reforms too. Abrams (2008) and Thompson (2012) suggested a federal system that recommends, but not mandates, management plans to states, like the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). The CZMA of 1972 “encourages the states to develop management plans for the protection of their coastal areas, and provides that the plans must follow guidelines set forth in the Act and must be federally approved; federal agencies are required to comply with such plans “to the maximum extent practicable” (Walston, 1979, p. 1645).

In many cases, the consequences of climate change on water resources are regional. Arid areas have been experiencing drier conditions and a decline in water availability. For example, Arizona needs to adapt to changing climatic conditions and population growth. So, the actions that need to be taken to mitigate the effects of climate change are likely to be at the local level. In an article about the 1980 Arizona Groundwater Management Act, Engel (2020) suggested creating a cooperative localism, a term first coined by Davidson (2007), to manage water use. This cooperative localism approach would not involve the federal government, but it would give responsibility to the states to gather scientific information and conduct research. County or even local groundwater management units would be responsible for developing state standards and implementation plans (Engel, 2020).

Overall, the environmental federalism literature of the 21st century encompasses water quantity and water quality federalism. Many attempts have been made to coin new, and sometimes not so new, federalism terms to offer solutions to the management of water. These terms, whether they are “adaptive” (Adelmant & Engel, 2008), “polyphonic” (Schapiro, 2011), “pragmatic” (Gerlak, 2005), or “prefectorial” (Howard, 2011), remain to be distinguished from one another in any meaningful fashion.

Good Governance for Inclusive Federalism Framework

New water federalism should follow best water-governance practices. Best governance practices require taking into account institutional, sociocultural, and economic dimensions (Varady et al., 2013). A new water federalism framework should acknowledge and enact these dimensions.

Institutional alignment has been shown to be a key to good governance. Matching the scale of the water management with the scale of the administration is important (Cumming et al., 2006). As far as the sociocultural dimension is concerned, everyone should be treated with the same level of fairness, regardless of income or other resources (Varady et al., 2013). This dimension therefore strongly implies both procedural and distributional questions of environmental justice. Future policy and academic work could also benefit from tying together the literature on water justice and the human right to water to the concept of federalism. Accountability and transparency are important processes of water governance too and are related to the aspect of procedural environmental justice: Impartial legal systems and a well-informed participative society with accessible information produce better outcomes for everyone (Varady et al., 2013).

The economic dimension is also very important for good water governance for additional reasons. Varady et al. (2013) advocated for public-private partnerships in producing water supply projects when more capital investments are needed. Similarly, Matheson (1991) suggested developing a “national water policy” that could be developed from private water organizations, whereby public water resources associations with federal and state expertise could address water challenges to reallocate water, increase water quality, increase water supplies, and preserve state water management and allocation prerogatives. There are some international examples of national water policies, such as in Australia or Mexico, and public private partnerships have been used extensively in those contexts as well as in the United States. However, the financial mechanisms that these approaches imply have seen mixed results and often face significant public backlash (O’Neill & Schneider, 2021). Overall, what seems needed is a more participatory, democratic, and engaged form of federalism that takes seriously the social, cultural, political, environmental, and financial dimensions that cut across a range of water issues in a variety of contexts.


Water quantity federalism has existed since the creation of the United States. The passage of the Colorado River Compact, for example, follows a water quantity federalism framework. Water quality federalism emerged in the 1970s as a subset of environmental federalism. The regulation and implementation of the Clean Water Act (CWA), for example, follows a water quality federalism framework. Varieties of federalisms, like cooperative federalism help explain the interaction between different levels of governance. The contemporary environmental federalism literature refers to both water quantity federalism and water quality federalism. Climate change challenges have spurred inventions of varieties of federalisms to apply to the environmental federalism framework. Moving forward, the literature on water federalism should address the lack of scholarship about Native Nations since establishing a U.S. federal government. A third layer of government, the American Indian tribal government, should be included in state versus federal primacy discussions.

Since the end of the 20th century, addressing the water-climate nexus has been a major point of discussion in the environmental federalism literature. Debates about whether water federalism should follow a centralized or decentralized framework have been quite animated. To address climate change, both approaches ought to be considered. On the one hand, considering that climate change is caused by global activities, these activities need to be addressed at the global level. A horizontal international federalism framework could therefore be developed to address and limit greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Furthermore, many water issues arise as the climate becomes drier, creating conflicts between countries. Transboundary aquifers and rivers could be used as case studies to develop international federalism perspectives. On the other hand, the consequences of climate change on water affect regions differently. Perhaps a decentralized approach or what is sometimes referred to as a “right-size federalism” framework would be appropriate to deal with local water issues.

A large part of the literature on water and environmental federalisms discusses cooperative federalism and the CWA. Because the CWA was created before the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the former has been more widely discussed as an example of environmental federalism than the latter. The SDWA ought to be studied, at least to compare its framework to cooperative federalism, in more detail. Also, the predicament of unregulated contaminants of emerging concern in drinking water could be an interesting topic as one could ask whether the Environmental Protection Agency is the best suited entity to regulate drinking water quality, or if the U.S. Department of Health should be in charge (Siegel, 2019).

Finally, the literature on water federalism tends to be anthropocentric. Topics such as water for nature, ecology, and wildlife monitoring are related to water and out to be included, from the perspective of both water quantity and quality. Such discussions could also include the analysis of conflicts between land management departments and other threats to natural areas.


This research was supported in part by the Technology Research Initiative Fund administered by the University of Arizona Office for Research, Innovation, and Impact, funded under Proposition 301, the Arizona Sales Tax for Education Act in 2000.

Further Reading

  • Abrams, R. H. (2008). Water federalism and the Army Corps of Engineers’ role in eastern states water allocation. University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review, 31, 395.
  • Abrams, R. H. (2010). Correcting mismatched authorities: Erecting a new water federalism. Natural Resources & Environment, 25, 22.
  • Benson, R. D. (2006). Deflating the deference myth: National interests vs. state authority under federal laws affecting water use. Utah Law Review, 77, 241–316.
  • Gerlak, A. K. (2005). Federalism and U.S. water policy: Lessons for the twenty-first century. Publius: The Journal of Federalism, 36(2), 231–257.
  • Walston, R. (1979). Reborn federalism in western water law: The New Melones Dam decision. The Hastings Law Journal, 30, 39.


  • Abrams, R. H. (2008). Water federalism and the Army Corps of Engineers’ role in eastern states water allocation. University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review, 31, 395.
  • Abrams, R. H. (2010). Correcting mismatched authorities: Erecting a new water federalism. Natural Resources & Environment, 25, 22.
  • Adelmant, D. E., & Engel, K. (2008). Adaptive federalism: The case against reallocating environmental regulatory authority. Minnesota Law Review, 92(6), 56.
  • Adler, R. W. (2010). Climate change and the hegemony of state water law. Stanford Environmental Law Journal, 29(1), 1–61.
  • Andreen, W. L. (2016). Clean water act. In R. Anderson (Ed.), Berkshire encyclopedia of sustainability. Berkshire Publishing Group.
  • Andrews, R. N. L. (2018). American environmental policy since 1964. In J. Butler (Ed.), Oxford research encyclopedia of American history. Oxford University Press.
  • Bark, R. H., & Jacobs, K. L. (2009). Indian water rights settlements and water management innovations: The role of the Arizona Water Settlements Act. Water Resources Research, 45(5), 1–11.
  • Benson, R. D. (2006). Deflating the deference myth: National interests vs. state authority under federal laws affecting water use (pp. 241–316). Utah Law Review.
  • Black, H. C. (1979). Black’s law dictionary. West.
  • Ceplo, K., & Yandle, B. (1997). Western states and environmental federalism: An examination of institutional viability. In Environmental federalism (Chapter 7, p. 36).
  • Chief, K., Arnold, R., Curley, A., Hoover, J., Kacira, M., Karanikola, V., Simmons-Potter, K., Tellman, E. (2021). Addressing food-energy-water insecurities of the Navajo nation through university-community collaboration. Water Resources Impact, 23(1), 3.
  • Chief, K., Daigle, J. J., Lynn, K., & Whyte, K. P. (2014). Indigenous experiences in the U.S. with climate change and environmental stewardship in the Anthropocene. In V. A. Sample & R. P. Bixler (Eds.), Forest conservation and management in the Anthropocene: Conference Proceedings [RMRS-P-71] (pp. 161–176). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Rocky Mountain Research Station.
  • Craig, R. K. (2010). Adapting water federalism to climate change impacts: Energy policy, food security, and the allocation of water resources. Environmental & Energy Law & Policy Journal, 5, 183.
  • Cumming, G., Cumming, D. H. M., & Redman, C. (2006). Scale mismatches in social–ecological systems: Causes, consequences, and solutions. Ecology and Society, 11(1), 14.
  • Davidson, N. M. (2007). Cooperative localism: Federal–local collaboration in an era of state sovereignty. Immigration & Nationality Law Review, 28, 167.
  • Dunkelberger, H. E. (1970). The federal government’s role in regulating water pollution under the federal water quality act of 1965. Natural Resources Lawyer, 3(1), 22.
  • Dunn, A. D., & Boian, M. (2013). Postcards from the edge: Perspectives to reinvigorate Clean Water Act cooperative federalism. George Washington Journal of Energy and Environmental Law, 4, 68.
  • Engel, K. (2006). State and local climate change initiatives: What is motivating state and local governments to address a global problem and what does this say about federalism and environmental law? The Urban Lawyer, 38(4), 16.
  • Engel, K. (2020). Arizona’s Groundwater Management Act at forty: Tackling unfinished business. Unfinished Business, 10(2), 187–215.
  • Engel, K. H. (1996). State environmental standard-setting: Is there a race and is it to the bottom. Hastings Law Journal, 48(2), 271–398.
  • Fischman, R. L. (2005). Cooperative federalism and natural resources law. New York University Environmental Law Journal, 14, 179–231.
  • Franz, A. (2009). Crimes against water: The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. Tulane Environmental Law Journal, 23, 255.
  • Gerlak, A. K. (2005). Federalism and U.S. water policy: Lessons for the twenty-first century. Publius: The Journal of Federalism, 36(2), 231–257.
  • Glicksman, R. L. (2006). From cooperative to inoperative federalism: The perverse mutation of environmental law and policy modern federalism issues and American business: Articles & essays. Wake Forest Law Review, 41(3), 719–804.
  • Haider, M., & Teodoro, M. P. (2021). Environmental federalism in Indian Country: Sovereignty, primacy, and environmental protection. Policy Studies Journal, 49(3), 887–908.
  • (2018, August 21). Alaska.
  • (2019, June 6). Louisiana Purchase.
  • (2020, September 28). Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
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