Delph E. Carpenter, “Father of Interstate River Compacts”

Raised on an irrigated farm, Delph Carpenter recognized water as a precious resource in this arid land, something worth fighting for. Becoming a lawyer and establishing a practice in his hometown of Greeley, Carpenter served many clients with water-related legal needs.

As the attorney for the Greeley-Poudre Irrigation District, Carpenter became lead counsel in the Wyoming vs. Colorado lawsuit after the District constructed a tunnel to divert water from the Laramie River. Carpenter argued the case twice before the U.S. Supreme Court (1916 and 1918). With other lawsuits on the way, including one filed by Nebraska concerning the South Platte River, he began thinking about out-of-court solutions to the West's water conflicts.

Carpenter conceived the compact idea, encouraged negotiations and then advocated for ratification by state and federal legislatures. During all this, he suffered from the onset of Parkinson's disease, becoming increasingly disabled and eventually bedridden from 1933 until his death.

Delph’s Dates:

For more information about Delph Carpenter, read the biography Silver Fox of the Rockies by Daniel Tyler.