Pittman Underground Water Act

The Pittman Underground Water Act (introduced as S. 9) was an Act of Congress, that was approved on October 22, 1919 and was repealed on August 11, 1964. The public law gave the Secretary of the Interior the power to hand out permits to American citizens and associations to drill for and look for groundwater on public lands in Nevada. In addition, the law gave the Secretary the power to give patents to permittees who found enough groundwater to sustain a farm.[1] The law was supposed to stimulate agriculture in Nevada by supporting the development of artesian waters, since it was thought that the absence of surface water undermined the growth of the agricultural sector in Nevada.[2]

Pittman Underground Water Act
Long titleAn Act To encourage the reclamation of certain arid lands in the State of Nevada, and for other purposes.
Enacted bythe 66th United States Congress
Public lawPub.L. 66–60
Statutes at Large41 Stat. 293–295, ch. 77
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 9
  • Passed the Senate on July 9, 1919 
  • Passed the House on October 6, 1919 
United States Supreme Court cases
BedRoc Limited, LLC v. United States

The Pittman Underground Water Act was applied in BedRoc Limited, LLC v. United States, a 2004 decision by the United States Supreme Court. The majority of the Court argued that sand and gravel were no "valuable minerals" that were reserved to the government of the United States under the Pittman Underground Water Act and reversed the decision of the Ninth Circuit.[2]

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