Creating water policies have always been a great challenge. Water has multiple uses; economic growth and conservation of wildlife, however, the usage of water among individuals may contradict. Prior appropriation doctrines contradict with public trust doctrines and several reserve rights. Despite the conflict, there are strategies and policies that can be used to ensure that enough water is reserved for instream use and at the same time prior appropriator access to water is maintained. The best strategy to use to ensure this is accomplished is the distributive water policy. This strategy involves supplying water to a particular area.
In this strategy, the federal government plays an important role. The project is paid for by taxpayers. A small group of people from the community benefit from this strategy. It involves the construction of complex water projects. (Waller, 1995) This idea is mainly generated by farmers who needed water for irrigation purposes. Private companies tried to develop water when Western states were being settled. Most of these companies, however failed. Some of them sought to reorganize as irrigation districts after the constitution excused these public irrigation districts; also referred to as conservation, conservancy, reclamation, freshwater districts from state property taxes.
The irrigation districts today distribute about half of all water consumed in the Western states. The irrigation districts have also been used to provide hydroelectric power, drainage, control of floods, recreation facilities and sanitations for towns and industries. These agricultural organization worked together with the Bureau of Reclamation, Western legislators and Army Crop of Engineers to build delivery and storage systems of water. This strategy has resulted in economic growth and development. The projects also served the local residents effectively. The Army Crop Bureau of Reclamation benefited from the funds gotten from congregational funding and satisfaction of constructing large edifices. Before water is distributed, it must be established that its distribution will maximize profits.
Water is considered on two crucial margins; the first being the quantity of water to diverge depending on the production of water and the second is the quantity of water the user plans to control, it also determines the economic agents that control the appropriate rights. From its headquarters in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming to its convergence with the Yellowstone River at the City of Miles, The Tongue River flows to about 250 miles. The river drains to a basin that is about three-quarters of what is in Montana. The basin lies in four separate countries in Montana. The Tongue River is known for agricultural activities. As time passed, the activities have grown, and livestock operations rely on the accessibility of winter feed.
This agricultural progression is as a result of the irrigation technology. Most of the land in the portion of the lower basin is used for irrigation. The area is also composed of different types of soils. Before the Tongue River Reservoir started operating, the river experienced years of drought. Today, the attention is focused on distributing high-quality water for irrigation purposes (Gerstenzang, 1997).
Despite some individuals using flood irrigation, most people practicing irrigation have invested in the use of sprinkler technology. The fact that in 780 acres of land located along the river sprinkler irrigation has been used indicates that better use of technology has been implemented. Research has revealed that more acres of land that is irrigated are from the use of water that is obtained from the tongue compared to water obtained from pump underground. With the advancement in technology, users can manage to perform the same task using a less amount of water than what was initially required.
There are many other strategies that can be used to reserve more in stream water and maintain prior appropriator access; they include; allocative policy, redistributive policy, and cooperative policy. The allocative policy is concerned with water rights. This strategy can, however, result in a lot of conflicts between two or more states when a river flows within their boundaries. Such conflicts are not easy to resolve, for instance, the Colorado River Saga. In the redistributive policy, the benefits initially enjoyed by a group are given to a different group of people. This strategy results in a lot of conflict, hate and disagreement.
The process of making the decision of who will lose the water is often permeable as a lot of parties take part. In this strategy, there are very minimal cases of states and federal organizations restoring operation of rivers to protect habitat. The strategy of cooperative water policy minimizes conflicts by enabling participants to choose and share benefits and costs involved. Despite minimizing conflicts, this strategy has limitations. The programs are rarely evaluated to determine if they can protect watersheds. Most initiatives involving this strategy are limited to small areas. In addition to these, the collaboration among stakeholders may compel the abilities of individuals and organizations in other areas of the country. Finally, understanding of many individuals tends to result in the lowest common denominator decisions.
Water is a great commodity to many individuals and organizations. The distributive water policy is the best strategy to be used to ensure water is reserved for instream purposes, and prior appropriator access of water is still maintained. For instance with appropriate use of technology, use of irrigation reduces the use of water from the six-acre feet two-acre feet. The four-acre feet saved cannot be used for lands or any other purposes (Fitzgerald, 2000). According to the law, the amount of water saved should be returned to the stream to improve in-stream flows.
Fitzgerald, T. (2000). Prior Appropriation and Water Quality. Conservation Leadership Council.
Gerstenzang, J. (1997, December 18). Dam Construction in N.C. Shaking Up NorthWest.NewYork Times.
Waller, T. (1995). Knowledge, Power and Environmental Policy. The Environmental Profession, 153-166.