The National Agricultural Law Center, a member of the Agricultural & Food Law Consortium, recently added two new articles to its library of research publications.

Exempt Wells and Agriculture, by Jesse J. Richardson, Jr. & Iris Aloi, (West Virginia University College of Law), discusses the allowances for exempt agricultural wells in the states that allow them, via an explanatory text and a table that allows comparison between the states. In some states, primarily in the western United States, the doctrine of prior appropriation is used to determine water rights.  Generally speaking, under this doctrine the first landowner to divert the water to beneficial use gains priority right in the amount that is used. In times of shortage, the first user gets all of the water to which he is entitled, the second user gets all of their water, and so on, until there is no more water to appropriate. However, some states have created exemptions from this doctrine for certain types of wells, known as “exempt wells,” which typically withdraw only limited quantities of water or wells used for specific purposes, such as domestic use or livestock watering. This article may be downloaded here.

Water Rights Tables, by Jesse J. Richardson, Jr. & Iris Aloi, (West Virginia University College of Law), consists of two tables with information regarding water rights among the states. Table 1 summarizes each state’s common law water rights for both surface and percolating ground water. Table 2 briefly summarizes the type of regulated riparian requirements, the threshold at which the requirements apply, grandfathered water withdrawals and exemptions for those states that have regulated riparian rules.  Download this article here.

Research publications are a vital part of the Center’s mission to conduct objective, timely, and non-partisan research into agricultural and food law issues and to provide that scholarship to the agricultural and food law communities.  An index with links to our library of research publications is available here.