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Case Basics
Docket No. 
105 ORIG
(on behalf of the United States, as Intervenor)
(on behalf of the Defendant)
(on behalf of the Plaintiff)
Facts of the Case 

In 1949, Congress approved the Arkansas River Compact. Article IV-D provided that future development of the river basin could not materially deplete the usable quantity or availability to other users of the river's waters. In 1986, Kansas filed suit alleging that Colorado had violated the Compact. Ultimately, the Special Master found that post-Compact increases in groundwater well pumping in Colorado had materially depleted the waters in violation of Article IV-D. The Special Master, in his second report, recommended that damages be awarded to Kansas. In his third report, the Special Master recommended that such damages be measured by Kansas' losses attributable to Compact violations since 1950, be paid in money not water, and include prejudgment interest from 1969 to the date of judgment. Colorado filed four objections to the third report, Kansas filed one, and the United States submitted that all objections should be overruled.


Does the Eleventh Amendment preclude the recommended award of damages based on losses sustained by individual water users in Kansas? Should the damages include prejudgment interest? Is the amount of interest excessive? Should the prejudgment interest be paid from 1950 rather than 1969? Did the Special Master improperly calculate the value of the crop losses attributable to the Compact violations?

Decision: 6 votes for Kansas, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision:

No, yes, no, no, and no. In a unanimous opinion delivered by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court remanded the case to the Special Master for preparation of a final judgment consistent with its opinion. The Court unanimously concluded that the recommended damages award does not violate the Eleventh Amendment and that the Special Master properly determined the value of the crop losses attributable to Compact violations. In a 6-3 split, the Court ruled that the unliquidated nature of Kansas' money damages does not bar an award of prejudgment interest and that the Special Master determined the appropriate rate for the prejudgment interest award, which should begin running in 1969.

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KANSAS v. COLORADO. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_105_orig>.
KANSAS v. COLORADO, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_105_orig (last visited August 26, 2015).
"KANSAS v. COLORADO," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_105_orig.