I have a new book out this year – it’s about water law and aptly named “Water Law.” Water Law: Concepts and Insights (full title) is another collaboration with Robin Kundis Craig, the James I. Farr Presidential Endowed Chair of Law, and Robert Adler, the Jefferson B. and Rita E. Fordham Presidential Dean, both at the University of Utah College of Law. (The cover photo of the Detroit River was taken from Belle Isle State Park last fall.)
“Water Law” is intended for lawyers, students, and anyone interested in understanding what water law is all about and how it shapes freshwater use and protection in the United States. The book provides a general overview of basic water law doctrines and an exploration of how water law – the law and policies governing allocation of freshwater – fit into broader ecological and environmental issues. Presented in 14 chapters, it begins with an overview of water use and protection challenges (including climate change) and a ‘hydrology for lawyers’ crash course. The next several chapters cover private water use rights under state law – riparian reasonable use for lakes and rivers in the east, prior appropriation for water in the west, and a spectrum of groundwater rules across the 50 states. It then explores public rights to water, notably the public trust doctrine and water rights reserved for Native American tribes. Constitutional law melds with water law in chapters about interstate disputes and federal powers, focusing on compacts and treaties governing the Great Lakes and Colorado River. Final chapters put the laws governing water use into a broader context, exploring intersections with energy policy, water quality, endangered species protections, and broader watershed management. “Water Law” concludes by looking at conflicts between private rights to water (constitutionally protected as property) and public and governmental interests in water (commonly decried as “takings”).
The final chapter tees up the fundamental question of water law – is water a private good, a person’s property, to be bought and sold like books or stocks? Or is water something different, a public and common treasure for all, to be stewarded for the greater good as a human right? “Water Law” does not presume a single answer, but gives the reader an organized tour of the field so she can reach her own conclusions.
“Water Law: Concepts and Insights” (331 pages) is published by Foundation Press. Available on Amazon (and consider making Great Lakes Environmental Law Center your AmazonSmile charity), order through your favorite bookseller, check out on Google Books, and preview the table of contents.