In California Oregon Power Co. v. Beaver Portland Cement Co., the United States Supreme Court addressed whether federal land patents issued to western settlers pursuant to federal land disposition laws such as the Homestead Act also conveyed federal common law riparian rights to water. The Court held that federal land patents did not include riparian water rights as a matter of federal law. Instead, the Court held that by the 1877 Desert Land Act, Congress had severed water resources from the federal public domain lands; as a result, the states were and are free to develop and enforce their own laws addressing water allocation.
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