New Jersey v. New York
283 U.S. 336 (1931)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

New Jersey v. New York, 283 U.S. 336 (1931)

New Jersey v. New York

No. 16, original

Argued April 13, 14, 15, 1931

Decided May 4, 1931

283 U.S. 336

Syllabus

The State of New Jersey sued the State of New York and the City of New York to enjoin them from diverting water from nonnavigable tributaries of the Delaware for the purpose of increasing

Page 283 U. S. 337

the water supply of the City. Pennsylvania intervened to protect her interest in the river.

Held:

1. The case is not governed by a strict application of the common law rules of private riparian rights, but by the principle of equitable apportionment applicable between the states of the Union. P. 283 U. S. 342.

2. The mere fact that the proposed diversion is to another watershed is not a bar. P. 283 U. S. 343.

3. The objection that the proposed diversion will interfere with the navigability of the river is met, for the purposes of this case, by proof that navigability will not be impaired. P. 283 U. S. 344.

4. The diversion, however, must remain subject to the paramount authority of Congress, and the powers of the Secretary of War and the Chief of Engineers of the Army, in respect of navigation and navigable waters of the United States. Id.

5. Subject to qualifications mentioned infra, the proposed diversion is reasonably necessary to New York, and not arbitrary or beyond the freedom of choice that must be left to that state. Id.

6. The possibility that the diversion may limit development of water power in New Jersey under future plans for damming the river, which would need the consent of Congress and of New York and Pennsylvania, is not such a showing of present interest as entitles New Jersey to relief. P. 283 U. S. 345.

7. The diversion from the tributaries of the amount proposed by New York will not materially affect the sanitary condition of the river, its industrial and agricultural uses, its use as a source of municipal water supply, or its shad fisheries. Id.

8. But it is necessary that the diversion should be curtailed and regulated, and be accompanied by sanitary treatment of sewage entering the stream in New York, in order to prevent injury to the use and reputation of the river for recreational purposes in New Jersey, and in order to avoid an increase of salinity in the lower river and in Delaware Bay which would injure the oyster industry there. Id.

9. The diversion, as limited by the decree, shall not constitute a prior appropriation or give the defendant state and city any superiority of right over the other two states in the enjoyment and use of the river and its tributaries. P. 283 U. S. 347.

10. The prayers of Pennsyvlania for a present allocation of water to it and for appointment of a river master are denied without prejudice. Id.

Page 283 U. S. 338

11. The Court retains jurisdiction to make future orders and modification. P. 283 U. S. 348.

Hearing on exceptions to the report of the Special Master, in a suit by New Jersey to enjoin diversion of water, in New York, from tributaries of the Delaware River. The State pf New York and the City of New York were the defendants. Pennsylvania became a party by intervention. See 280 U.S. 528, 533; post, p. 805.

Page 283 U. S. 341

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