The Wyoming Constitution explicitly grants the state ownership of surface water, declaring that water is “the property of the state.” The constitution enshrines the prior appropriation doctrine to govern water rights, while vesting the state legislature with responsibility for regulating the prior appropriation system. It also establishes an elaborate administrative structure, including a state engineer and board of control, to administer water rights, a singular Wyoming contribution to western water law. Under the federal McCarran Act, state courts are granted...
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