Dividing the Waters History

Since 1993, Dividing the Waters has provided a network for judicial officers to communicate with each other in a confidential and collegial setting about substantive and procedural case management issues that arise in complex water cases. The Ford Foundation supported the Program’s founding. For more than 20 years, foundations funded the Program, with Hewlett and Bechtel leading the way. Today, the Program seeks to diversify its funding, drawing support from state governments, its Board of Advisors, and regional foundations.

Beginning as a discussion forum on western water right adjudications, the Program has evolved to address the most critical water issues facing judges today – climate change, water quality, endangered species and growing cities. Its 2007 affiliation with the National Judicial College and its interaction with the Federal Judicial Center allow the Program to offer the latest expertise, methods and technologies for state and federal judges assigned to water litigation, to build their understanding of the complex issues in front of them. Dividing the Waters has begun extending its reach across the nation, to regions where water conflicts are relatively new and may benefit from the network’s experience.