Evolution of Water Allocation Law in the Eastern United States

by William E. Cox, Dep of Civil Engineering, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Legal, Institutional, Financial and Environmental Aspects of Water Issues


During the first half of this century, the riparian doctrine and common law ground water doctrines were modified by the courts as they adjusted to changing social demands. Evolution has continued in recent decades, primarily through enactment of statutory provisions that modify or replace the common law. This paper briefly reviews the earlier evolution within the common law to provide perspective, but it primarily focuses on more recent changes. It investigates the factors responsible for change, reviews the types of changes implemented, and evaluates possible implications. It concludes by considering current problems and issues that will likely become factors in further evolutionary development.

Subject Headings: Water policy | Water resources | Water supply | Social factors | Laws | Water rights | Groundwater | Legislation | United States

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