Skip to main content

Papers of Arthur L. Littleworth

Identifier: WLIT

Scope and Contents

The Papers of Arthur L. Littleworth consists of documents dated 1906 to 2009, with the bulk falling from 1985 to 2009. All of the documents are related to the Supreme Court case, Original No. 105, Kansas v. Colorado, et al. The collection is nearly comprehensive in terms of the trial transcripts, exhibits, and pleadings which were part of the case. Additionally, drafts, trial notes, and reference files support the five reports which Special Master Littleworth wrote. Associated files, including correspondence and expenses, also appear to be comprehensive. Trial publicity, reference files, and Littleworth's working files round out the collection. Due to the nature of the case, most aspects of the Arkansas River and some of its reservoirs and tributaries are covered, including streamflow, groundwater wells, and the Arkansas River Compact. Documents which pre-date 1985 are largely photocopies of originals.


  • Creation: 1906-2009
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1985-2009


Restrictions on Access

Two files in this collection are restricted, one in Series 2 and one in Series 3. The collection is stored off-site, so advance notice is required.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


Arthur L. Littleworth, Special Master for Kansas v. Colorado, has been one of the most prominent water-rights lawyers in the country for several decades. He has been at Best, Best & Krieger law firm working out of Riverside, California, since 1951.

Mr. Littleworth was born in 1923 in Anderson, California. In 1942, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served in World War II. While on duty, he received his letter of completion from Yale University with a bachelor's degree in history. In 1947, he received his master's in history at Stanford University and then graduated from Yale Law School in 1950. In 1951, Littleworth was admitted to the bar in California and joined Best, Best & Krieger.

Mr. Littleworth practiced general law in his early days. His first major water rights case came in 1961 when he became involved in U.S. v. Fallbrook Public Utility District, which lasted five years. His water rights expertise increased, and in 1978, Littleworth was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the Governor's Commission to Review California Water Rights Law. Following this, Littleworth was called upon for the Kansas v. Colorado Supreme Court case.

In 1985, Kansas sued Colorado for violating the terms of the Arkansas River Compact. Kansas claimed that Colorado had taken more than its share of water from the river. Judge Wade H. McCree, Jr., was originally appointed Special Master on the case, but passed away in 1987. Littleworth was then appointed Special Master, presiding from 1987 through 2009.

The case was tried in four parts, beginning in September 1990: liability, damages and remedies, future compliance, and finally judgment. As Special Master, Littleworth was the acting judge and jury, listening to and analyzing each state's justification. The liability phase lasted four years, and on July 29, 1994, Littleworth issued his first report in which he concluded that Colorado had violated the Arkansas River Compact by depleting water through excessive well drilling. The next step was to determine how much water had been taken and what the monetary damages would be.

The next six years were dedicated to the damages and remedies phase. Littleworth published his second and third reports, on October 6, 1997, and October 10, 2000, respectively. His second report dealt with quantifying depletions from 1950 to 1985 along with depletions subsequent to 1985. It also began considering remedies for the past depletions, which was then continued and comprised his third report.

Mr. Littleworth's fourth report, published December 8, 2003, analyzed the future compliance phase of the trial. It decided whether Colorado's use rules are effective enough to ensure future compliance, along with how to utilize the H-I model (hydrologic-institutional model, a complex computer model) in the future to determine compact compliance. Littleworth's fifth and final report was given to the court on February 4, 2008, and it concluded the judgment segment of the trial. His last report included a proposed judgment and decree intended to end the hundred year history of litigation over rights to Arkansas River water. On May 18, 2009, the motion to discharge Mr. Arthur Littleworth from the case was granted by the Supreme Court.

Mr. Littleworth has received many awards during his career, including the Inland Empire Council of the Boy Scouts of America "Distinguished Citizen" (1996) and the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce "Citizen of the Year" (1988) awards, along with being named one of the "Top 100" lawyers in California in 2003. He is the co-author of a book titled California Water, published in 1995 and updated in 2008. Mr. Littleworth passed away in October 2021.


117 linear feet (78 record cartons)

Language of Materials



California lawyer Arthur L. Littleworth (1923-2021) served as special master on the Kansas v. Colorado Supreme Court case from 1987 until its conclusion in 2009. The case was tried in four parts, and Littleworth wrote five reports during the course of the case. This collection documents the case in its entirety, through trial transcripts, exhibits, and pleadings, as well as correspondence, financial papers, trial notes, report drafts, final reports, and publicity. Due to the nature of the case, most aspects of the Arkansas River and some of its reservoirs and tributaries are covered, including streamflow, groundwater wells, and the Arkansas River Compact. Two files in the collection are restricted. A portion of the collection is digitized and online.


The original order of the collection was retained with any rearrangement done primarily to achieve chronological order.

The collection consists of 3 series in 78 boxes:

Series 1: Court case documents, 1906-2009 and undated

Series 2: Reports, 1942-2009 and undated

Series 3: Associated files, 1947-2009


The Papers of Arthur L. Littleworth was donated to the Water Resources Archive by Mr. Littleworth in August 2009.

Online Materials

Lists of initial exhibits submitted by Kansas, Colorado, and the United States, as well as joint lists, have been scanned and are available online. These documents give exhibit titles, which were not transcribed in this finding aid. Files received on disks, primarily trial transcripts, have been uploaded. A large selection of other documents has also been digitized and made available online. In the electronic version of this document, direct links appear in context.

Related Collections

The Regional Oral History Office at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, conducted an extensive oral history interview with Mr. Littleworth. The transcript can be found on their website.


Processing was completed in March 2010. Materials were rehoused in acid-free boxes and folders. Documents were removed from plastic sleeves and binders, and newspaper clippings were interleaved with acid-free paper. Some metal fasteners were removed, as were rubber bands. Duplicates beyond two copies were removed. Any floppy disks or compact discs found interfiled with papers were relocated to be stored together; duplicate and corrupt disks were disposed. Files were backed up on a server.

Inventory Note

Note: Title information supplied by the archivist is bracketed. Estimated pagination is preceded by an "e." Two identical copies of the same item are indicated by the phrase "2 copies" at the end of the entry, following the number of pages of each copy. Abbreviation ALL=Arthur L. Littleworth.

Guide to the Papers of Arthur L. Littleworth
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Jordan Deignan and Patricia J. Rettig
Copyright 2010
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA