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Supreme Court To Hear MT vs. WY Water Case

Publication Date: 
November 09, 2010
Business Week - AP
Matthew Brown

Professor and director of the Woods Institute for the Environment Barton H. "Buzz" Thompson, Jr., is quoted in the following Business Week article on a Supreme Court case dealing with an interstate dispute over the Yellowstone River's water supply:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday set a Jan. 10 hearing date on Montana's claim that farmers in Wyoming are taking too much of the region's scarce water supply.

Montana sued its southern neighbor in 2007, saying it was violating a 1950 deal to share the water of the Yellowstone River and its tributaries. The lawsuit alleges that Wyoming industries are depleting two Yellowstone tributaries -- the Tongue and Powder rivers.


Special Master Barton Thompson, a Stanford University water-law expert, said in a February interim report to Justices that Montana has grounds to sue over Wyoming's expanded use of water since 1950.

However, Thompson rejected Montana's claim that Wyoming should be held liable for increased water use due to irrigation improvements.

Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock, who challenged Thompson's finding, said Monday that those changes in irrigation can't be ignored.