In Nebraska, rights to waters in streams and lakes have been regulated through a dual-system which utilizes both the riparian doctrine of the common law and the statutory scheme of appropriative rights. Although the two doctrines are divergent in many instances, the judiciary has recognized this and attempted to maintain a balance between them. Despite these efforts, however, inconsistent principles of law developed over the years until finally in Wasserburger v. Coffee the Nebraska Supreme Court attempted to reconcile the relative status of riparians and appropriators. In doing so, the court prescribed a flexible method of equitable balance rather than a static formula of distribution. This article gives a brief introduction to some of the problems faced in distributing water rights under this dual-system, and will attempt to determine what effect Wasserburger may have on these rights that are so intimately linked with the prosperity of the state and all of its citizens.
The Dual-System of Water Rights in Nebraska,
48 Neb. L. Rev. 488
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol48/iss2/6