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U.S. Supreme Court

Connecticut v. Massachusetts, 282 U.S. 660 (1931)

Connecticut v. Massachusetts

No. 12, Original

Argued January 5, 6, 1931

Decided February 24, 1931

282 U.S. 660


1. This Court will not exert its extraordinary power to control the conduct of one state at the suit of another unless the threatened invasion of rights is of serious magnitude and established by clear and convincing evidence. P. 282 U. S. 669.

2. The burden of proof in such cases is much greater than that generally imposed on a private party seeking to enjoin another. P. 282 U. S. 669.

3. Pursuant to Acts of her legislature, and subject to limitations fixed by the Secretary of War, Massachusetts proposes to divert water from streams within her territory, the Ware and Swift Rivers, which are tributaries of the Connecticut, a navigable river flowing through Massachusetts and thence through the State of Connecticut. The diverted water will be conducted out of the Connecticut River watershed, to the Boston district, where it will be used for drinking and other domestic purposes. That district will be faced by a water shortage in the near future, and the tributaries referred to were selected, after elaborate research, as the source of new supply, rather than sources in the eastern part of Massachusetts which are polluted or liable to become so. Connecticut sought to enjoin the diversion, for herself and as parens patriae. Held, upon the facts as found by a Master and accepted by the Court: chanrobles.com-red

Page 282 U. S. 661

(1) The controversy is not necessarily to be determined by the common law of riparian rights, which prevails in both states. P. 282 U. S. 669.

(2) Suits of this kind are to be determined on the basis of equality of right, which means, not that there must be an equal division of the waters of the stream among the states through which it flows, but that the principles of right and equity shall be applied, having regard to the constitutional equality of the states, and that, upon a consideration of the pertinent laws of the contending states and all other relevant facts, this Court will determine what is an equitable apportionment of the use of such waters. P. 282 U. S. 670.

(3) The facts do not show that any real or substantial injury or damage will presently result to Connecticut from the proposed diversions. P. 282 U. S. 672.

(4) The possibility that hydroelectric works in Connecticut, which, as now existing, will not be affected by the proposed diversions, might be enlarged in the future so as to use the whole capacity of the river is not ground for enjoining the diversions. P. 282 U. S. 673.

(5) The proposed diversions by Massachusetts should not be enjoined. P. 282 U. S. 673.

(6) Inasmuch as the diversions intended by Massachusetts are limited to the tributaries in question, Connecticut has no occasion to ask for an injunction against future diversions from other tributaries. P. 282 U. S. 673.

(7) Connecticut's bill will be dismissed without prejudice to her right to maintain a suit against Massachusetts whenever it shall appear that substantial interests of Connecticut are being injured through a material increase of the amount of the waters of the Ware and Swift diverted by or under the authority of Massachusetts over and above the quantities authorized by the Acts of the legislature as heretofore limited by the War Department. P. 282 U. S. 674.

Final hearing of an original suit upon exceptions to the report of the Special Master. chanrobles.com-red

Page 282 U. S. 662


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