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June 18, 2018

Note: Justice Talking's grant funding expired in 2008 and the project has been closed. This website is an archive of the entire run of Justice Talking shows through June 30, 2008.
It is no longer being maintained. We apologize for any stale or broken links.
Featured Program

Photo by: Sonia J. Stamm
Water Rights
Last Featured: 5/26/2003

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Note: Justice Talking ceased production on June 30 of 2008. Link information on this site is not maintained and is provided for historical interest only. Although correct when posted, The Annenberg Public Policy Center makes no claim as the the accuracy or continued availability of any third party web links found on this site.

A four year drought has added to challenges facing western states in their increasingly desperate search for water. The fight for water rights crisscrosses huge swaths of the western half of the nation. Kansas is locked in court battles with Colorado and Nebraska, California continues to struggle with its neighbors, and population explosions in desert cities all add to a growing tension that pits agribusiness, cities and environmentalists against one another. Overuse of the Rio Grande along the border of Texas and Mexico has even brought international treaties into play. In a time of growing populations and diminishing resources, who gets to “go to the well” and how often?

Gregory Thomas is the founder and president of the Natural Heritage Institute, a non-profit natural resource conservation organization of lawyers, scientists and economists, headquartered in Berkeley, California. He has practiced natural resources law both domestically and internationally since 1974, primarily for non-profit conservation organizations. He has served on the faculties of law schools at the University of California at Los Angeles, UC Berkeley, and Wuhan University in China.

Stuart Somach is currently an attorney and shareholder with Somach, Simmons & Dunn. He specializes in water, natural resources and environmental law. In 2005, Mr. Somach secured a unanimous United States Supreme Court ruling in favor of his client, Westlands Water District (Orff v. United States). Prior to his work in the private sector, Mr. Somach held several positions with the United States Department of Justice, Land and Natural Resources and in the United States Department of the Interior.

Closing Quote
"How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea – strange to us – if we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?”"

— Chief Seattle

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Join the Debate
NOTE: Justice Talking Blogs and Forums have been closed.
Special Announcements
Justice Talking’s last broadcast & podcast was June 30, 2008.
California Constitution, articles X, X A and X B
Association of California Water Agencies
California Farm Water Coalition
Mni Sose Intertribal Water Rights Coalition
Colorado Water Knowledge, Colorado State University
San Diego Metropolitan Water Authority
Imperial Irrigation Water District
Colorado River Water Users Association
High Country News
Sierra Club
California Water Law & Policy
Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water
by Marc Reisner
Rivers of Gold: Designing Markets to Allocate Water in California
by Brent M. Haddad
Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit
by Vandana Shiva
Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource
by Marq De Villiers
Are Current Water Policies Leaving Us High and Dry?
The Future of the Oceans
Greenhouse Gases and Global Warming