Document Type

Symposia Article


With these words, Colonel Nathan R. Jessep, played by Jack Nicholson in the movie A Few Good Men, expressed his outrage at being caught in a lie. The lie is not relevant to our purposes today. What is relevant is the fact that the truth eventually became known.

As we look to secure water supplies for the future, it is essential that decisions regarding the allocation and management of water resources be based as much as possible on truth, not on illusions created and perpetrated in the name of political expediency. As Col. Jessep could not stand being caught in a lie, future water allocation and management decisions will not stand if they are based on illusion.

This paper addresses three illusions. The following Section focuses on the myth of stationarity. The second Section debunks the assumption that physically available water supplies are also legally available. The third Section addresses the illusion of “state primacy” in the allocation and management of water resources. Conclusions are contained in the final Section, “The Fourth Dimension.”

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