Kansas v. Colorado, 514 U.S. 673, 5 (1995)

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Cite as: 514 U. S. 673 (1995)

Opinion of the Court

John C. Fremont traversed the river in the other direction in his expedition of 1843-1844.

Today, as a result of the Kerr McClellan Project, the Arkansas River is navigable for oceangoing vessels all the way from its mouth to Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Arkansas River is unique in that the pronunciation of its name changes from State to State. In Colorado, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, it is pronounced as is the name of the State of Arkansas, but in Kansas, it is pronounced Ar-KAN-sas.

The reach of the Arkansas River system at issue here is a fertile agricultural region that extends from Pueblo, Colorado, to Garden City, Kansas. This region has been developed in Colorado by 23 major canal companies and in Kansas by 6 canal companies, which divert the surface flows of the Arkansas River and distribute them to individual farmers. Report 35-38. Also relevant to this dispute, the United States has constructed three large water storage projects in the Arkansas River basin. Id., at 43-48. The John Martin Reservoir, located on the Arkansas River about 60 miles west of the Kansas border, was authorized by Congress in 1936, 49 Stat. 1570, and was completed in 1948. It is the largest of the federal reservoirs, and initially it had a storage capacity of about 700,000 acre-feet.1 Report 45. The Pueblo Reservoir, located on the Arkansas River about 150 miles west of the Kansas border, was authorized by Congress in 1962, and was substantially completed in 1975. Id., at 44. In 1977, the storage capacity of the Pueblo Reservoir was estimated to be about 357,000 acre-feet. Ibid. Finally, the Trinidad Reservoir, located on the Purgatoire River (a major tributary of the Arkansas River) was approved by Congress in 1958, and was completed in 1977. Id., at 43. The total capacity of the Trinidad Reservoir is about 114,000 acre-feet. Ibid.

1 An acre-foot is equivalent to 325,900 gallons of water; it represents the volume of water necessary to cover one acre of land with one foot of water. Report xvii.


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