Here’s an in-depth look at Special Master Simon Rifkind’s decision about Colorado River streamflow back in the early 1960s from John Fleck posted on instain. Click through and read the whole post for all the gory detail. Here’s an excerpt:
In 1960, U.S. Supreme Court Special Master Simon Rifkind made a fundamental mistake in calculating how much water was then available in the Colorado River Basin, and how much might be available in the future. The court, in its ruling in the case of Arizona v. California, accepted Rifkind’s math. The consequence is a shortage on the Colorado River relative to the expectations of the nine states (seven in the U.S., two in Mexico) that share it.
But it also was a fundamental mistake for the water users in the Lower Colorado River Basin to not recognize the flaw in Rifkind’s math and act accordingly. That second mistake, more than Rifkind’s, is the cause of our current troubles…
So right off the bat, according to [Lawrence MacDonnell’s] analysis, you’ve got what a “losing reach” between Lee Ferry and the users of Nevada, Arizona and California. That whole 7.5 million acre feet will not be available for the downstream users. But it gets worse. You’ve also got to add in water needed to meet the 1.5 million acre foot U.S. obligation to Mexico. Once all the puts and takes are added in (I encourage you to read MacDonnell’s paper (pdf), pp 395-396 for the full details).