The Prior Appropriations Doctrine. Unlike the Riparian doctrine, the Prior Appropriations doctrine bases water rights on when water use began.

The Prior Appropriations Doctrine

The Prior Appropriations Doctrine is a system of water rights that bases water use on when it began. This system of water rights is based on the principle that “first in time is first in right” (“Prior Appropriation,” n.d.). This means that the first person or entity to begin using a water source has the right to continue using it, even if someone else begins using the same source of water at a later date. In contrast to the Riparian Doctrine, which assigns water rights based on the ownership of land, the Prior Appropriations Doctrine does not take land ownership into consideration. The Prior Appropriations Doctrine is a system of water rights that originated in the western United States, including California, Colorado, and Nevada (Svendsen, 2018). In these areas, the doctrine is used to determine the rights of those using water for agricultural or municipal purposes. Under this doctrine, the right to use the water is determined by the date when the party began using it, and not by the ownership of the land where the water is located. In addition, water rights awarded under the Prior Appropriations Doctrine are based on the amount of water taken, and not on the amount of land owned. Cont…


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