Water Law Primer

by William E. Cox, (A.M.ASCE), Assoc. Prof.; Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Virginia Polytechnic Inst. and State Univ., Blacksburg, Va. 24061,

Serial Information: Journal of the Water Resources Planning and Management Division, 1982, Vol. 108, Issue 1, Pg. 107-122

Document Type: Journal Paper


An overview of legal principles controlling water resources use and development is provided. The body of legal principles is a combination of federal and state law, with federal law generally having a greater role with respect to water quality protection than with respect to allocation which primarily has been a state function. The basic pattern of water law evolution is given, with separate consideration given to watercourses, ground water, and diffused surface water. Within each of these areas, common law doctrines and legislative developments are discussed. Current water management problems and dissatisfactions with water law which likely will result in continuing change are considered.

Subject Headings: Laws | Water resources | Water policy | Federal government | Water quality | Water use | Groundwater | Diffusion

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