Toward a Rational Scheme of Interstate Water Compact Adjudication

This Note argues that the current method of resolving interstate water compact disputes is seriously flawed and that the current practice of invoking the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction to resolve these cases should be altered. This Note contends that the compact itself should contain structural dispute resolution procedures insisted upon by Congress before any grant of approval is given to the agreement. Part I of this Note examines the history of the compact clause of the Constitution and its application in interstate relations. Part II explores how a poorly drafted, yet fairly representative, water allocation compact led two states to the Supreme Court in search of relief. After analyzing the Supreme Court’s decisions and orders attempting to resolve the issue, Part II concludes that the Court has no intrinsically satisfactory remedy and must merely make the best of a poor situation. Part III then examines alternative methods of resolving these disputes, including federally mandated tiebreakers for deadlocked compact commissions, administrative resolution of compact disputes, and insistence by Congress on a mandatory arbitration clause to be included in all future compacts ratified by it. Part IV concludes that, for both legal and practical reasons, arbitration constitutes the most suitable of the three alternatives.