On November 26, 2001, the Arizona Supreme Court concluded that Indian reservations were established as homelands. By articulating a homeland standard for the measure of reserved water rights based on tribal economic development plans, cultural needs, and historic water uses, the Arizona Supreme Court has eliminated many of the blatant inequities plaguing the current approach to Indian water rights quantification. Nevertheless, there are concerns with wholesale adoption of the Arizona standard, including the effect on those who have devoted resources in reliance on the previous standard, the introduction of uncertainty in the method of quantification, and the impact on federal funding. Courts may address these concerns by retaining the current practicably irrigable standard for quantification of the agricultural water right, and by turning to experience gained in settlement processes to quantify other aspects of a homeland water right. The effect of the standard on the method for calculation of federal funding to develop Indian water highlights the need to change that method to reflect the obligation to provide the water infrastructure necessary to render a reservation a home.
42 Nat. Resources J. 835 (2002)