Washington v. Oregon,
297 U.S. 517 (1936)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Washington v. Oregon, 297 U.S. 517 (1936)

Washington v. Oregon

No. 11, original

Argued February 10, 11, 1936

Decided March 2, 1936

297 U.S. 517


1. This Court will not exercise its jurisdiction to control the conduct of one State at the suit of another, unless the invasion of right complained of be of serious magnitude and proved by clear and convincing evidence. P. 297 U. S. 522.

2. The mere fact that a dam diverting water for irrigation from a nonnavigable stream takes the entire surface flow in times of scarcity gives to an adjacent State lower on the stream no equity to an injunction against the State in which the dam is operated, where water rights in both States are based on appropriation for beneficial uses and where an injunction would wreak great injury upon farmers in the upper State who are dependent upon the diversion and would probably not increase the flow in the lower State because of physical condition of the streambed. P. 297 U. S. 522.

3. The evidence fails to prove the contention that water diverted from the Walla Walla River and used for irrigation in Oregon, is used wastefully, to the injury of irrigators in Washington, or the contention that the pumping of water in Oregon and its use in irrigating the lands from which it is pumped, materially lessens the quantity of water otherwise available for use in Washington. P. 297 U. S. 523.

4. The right of landowners to make reasonable use of percolating water by pumping from wells and applying it to the surface, considered and upheld. P. 297 U. S. 525.

Page 297 U. S. 518

5. Oregon and Washington are entitled to their equitable proportions of the water of the Walla Walla, on the basis of priority of appropriations. P. 297 U. S. 526.

6. A water priority once acquired, or put in course of acquisition by the posting of a notice, may be lost by abandonment. P. 297 U. S. 527.

7. In determining equitable apportionment between States of the waters of a common stream, a priority allotted in one of the States by an adjudication to which the other State and its appropriators were not parties, is not binding on them and will not be counted if, as to them, the claimant of such priority has forfeited his right, by laches, abandonment, or other inequitable conduct. P. 297 U. S. 528.

Bill Dismissed.

The object of this original suit was to obtain an apportionment between the two States of the waters of the Walla Walla River and tributaries, supported by an injunction. The case was heard on exceptions to the report of the Special Master, William W. Ray, Esquire, of Utah, to whom it had been referred.

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