Evaluation of the Model Water Code from an Environmental Ethic Perspective

by Margot W. Garcia, Virginia Commonwealth Univ, Richmond, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Water Resources Planning and Management: Saving a Threatened Resource—In Search of Solutions


In order to allocate water in an equitable and orderly process, laws have been constructed. The two basic methods of allocation are 1) a market system and 2) a political system. In a market system, property law is the primary foundation for water allocation. In a politically driven system, government in some form uses its plenary powers or police powers to protect the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the public. Both these approaches are anthropocentric and would be rejected by those who subscribe to an environmental ethic that puts humans as being part of the web of life, but not superior to it. The ethics of enlightened self-interest and stewardship of the earth are anthropocentric. This philosophy sees it as important to protect the earth and its resources because they are needed in the future and not to protect the earth could result in harm to humans. Reverence for Life, the universal conception of ethics put forward by Albert Schweitzer felt there was a sacredness to all life, that of the human as well as that of plants and animals. Deep ecology is the name given to the environmental ethic that sees that human beings are but one part of nature. Aldo Leopold in the Sand County Almanac wrote that In short a land ethic changes the role of Homo Sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. This ethical view subscribes to biospherical equilitarianism and self realization. Principles of Deep Ecology applied to the issue of water allocation would result in a different system for orderly and equitable distribution.

Subject Headings: Human factors | Lifeline systems | Hydrologic models | Standards and codes | Environmental issues | Ethics | Water policy | Aquatic habitats

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