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IDE V. UNITED STATES, 263 U. S. 497 (1924)

U.S. Supreme Court

Ide v. United States, 263 U.S. 497 (1924)

Ide v. United States

No. 37

Argued April 18, 1923

Decided January 7, 1924

263 U.S. 497


1. The Act of August 30, 1890, c. 837, 26 Stat. 391, in providing that, in all patents issued under the public land laws for lands west of the 100th meridian, there should be expressly reserved rights of way "for ditches or canals constructed by the authority of the United States," is to be construed, in the light of the circumstances that prompted it, as including canals and ditches constructed after issuance of patent as well as those constructed before. P. 263 U. S. 501.

2. Under a statute of Wyoming (Laws 1905, c. 85) granting rights of way over all lands of the state for ditches "constructed by or under the authority of the United States" and providing that reservations thereof shall be inserted in all state conveyances, patents of school land issued by the state to private parties expressly subject to rights of way "reserved to the United States" are subject to the right of the United States thereafter to construct and operate irrigation ditches for a reclamation project over the lands conveyed by the patents. P. 263 U. S. 502.

3. This right may be exercised by straightening, and using as a ditch, a natural ravine to collect waters appertaining to the federal project which have been used in irrigating its lands and are found percolating where they are not needed, and to conduct them elsewhere for further use upon the project. P. 263 U. S. 503.

4. The evidence here shows that the ravine in question carried no natural flow of water susceptible of storage or use in the irrigation season, and therefore none susceptible of private appropriation under the law of Wyoming, and that the water in controversy resulted from seepage from lands irrigated under the federal irrigation project. P. 263 U. S. 503.

5. The right of the United States in water appropriated generally for the lands of a reclamation project is not exhausted by conveyance of the right of user to grantees under the project and use of the water by them in irrigating their parcels, but attaches to the seepage from such irrigation, affording the government priority in the enjoyment thereof for further irrigation on the project over strangers who seek to appropriate it for their lands. P. 263 U. S. 505.

Page 263 U. S. 498

6. Evidence held to refute the contention that the government had abandoned its right to the seepage water in controversy. P 263 U. S. 506.

7. A water permit issued ex parte by the State Engineer of Wyoming is a mere license to appropriate water if available, and in accordance with the law of the state. P. 263 U. S. 507.

277 F. 373 affirmed.

Appeal from a decree of the circuit court of appeals which reversed a decree of the district court for the defendants (appellants here) in a suit by the United States to enjoin interference with work in connection with an irrigation project.

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