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The designation by the government or an individual of the use to which a fund of money is to be applied. The selection and setting apart of privately owned land by the government for public use, such as a military reservation or public building. The diversion of water flowing on public domain from its natural course by means of a canal or ditch for a private beneficial use of the appropriator.

An appropriation bill is a proposal placed before the legislative branch of the government by one or a group of its members to earmark a particular portion of general revenue or treasury funds for use for a governmental objective. Federal appropriation bills can originate only in the House of Representatives as mandated by Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution. Once an appropriation law is enacted, a definite amount of money is set aside so that public officials can pay incurred or anticipated expenditures. When a law authorizes funds to be used for a particular purpose, it is known as a specific appropriation.

The appropriation of money by an individual occurs within the context of a debtor-creditor relationship. If a creditor is owed two separate debts by the same debtor who makes a payment without specifying the debt to which it is to be applied, the creditor can appropriate the payment to either debt.

Appropriation also refers to the physical taking and occupation of property by the government or its actual, substantial interference with the owner's right to use the land according to personal wishes by virtue of the government's power of EMINENT DOMAIN.

This right of an individual to use water that belongs to the public is embodied in the prior appropriation doctrine applied in arid western states where water supplies are not available in sufficient quantity to all who might need them. An individual landowner who first diverts water for personal benefit is entitled to its continued use as long as there is a reasonable need and the water is actually used.


Federal Budget; Water Rights.

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