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United States v. District Court in and for Water Division No. 5

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

401 U.S. 527

United States  v.  District Court in and for Water Division No. 5

 Argued: March 2, 1971. --- Decided: March 24, 1971


In this companion case to United States v. District Court for Eagle County, 401 U.S. 520, 91 S.Ct. 998, 28 L.Ed.2d 278, the United States had been served with notice pursuant to 43 U.S.C. § 666 of a proceeding in state court for the adjudication of water rights affecting areas of the State in the drainage basins of the Colorado River system. In addition to its claim that § 666 does not apply to state court suits against the Government for adjudication of its reserved water rights, the Government contended that the state statutory proceedings involved in this case, which contemplated monthly proceedings before a water referee on water rights applications filed within a particular month, do not constitute general adjudications of water rights under § 666 because all the water users and all water rights on a stream system are not implicated in the referee's determinations. The Government's contentions were rejected by the state courts. Held:

1. The state court has jurisdiction to adjudicate the reserved water rights of the United States. Eagle County, supra. P. 529.

2. The state statutory proceedings are within the scope of § 666 and reach all claims in their totality, although the adjudication is made on a monthly basis. Pp. 529-530.


Walter Kiechel, Jr., Washington, D.C., for petitioner.

Kenneth Balcomb, Glenwood Springs, Colo., for respondents.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).