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Climate change and the future of western US water governance

Water management in the western United States is rooted in an adversarial system that is highly sensitive to climate change. Reforms are needed to ensure water management is efficient, resilient and equitable moving forward.

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Fig. 1: Irrigation in the Snake River Plain of Idaho.

Timothy Swope / Alamy Stock Photo


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D.R.H.-H. acknowledges that he lives and makes his living in the aboriginal homeland of the Nimi’ipuu (Nez Perce) and Schitsu’umsh (Coeur d’Alene) peoples and that the University of Idaho’s main campus is situated within the boundaries of the Nez Perce Tribe’s unceded 1855 Reservation. These Tribal Nations are distinct, sovereign, legal and political entities with their own powers of self-governance and self-determination. Honour the treaties; “[g]reat nations, like great men, should keep their word” (Federal Power Commission. v. Tuscarora Indian Nation 362 U.S. 99, 142 (1960) (J. Black, dissenting)).

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Correspondence to Dylan R. Hedden-Nicely.

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Competing interests

D.R.H.-N. consults with individual water users and tribal governments on issues related to water rights and water resources management. D.R.H.-N. contributed to this Comment in his own capacity, and any views expressed are his own and not those of his clients.

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Hedden-Nicely, D.R. Climate change and the future of western US water governance. Nat. Clim. Chang. (2021).

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