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  Water Law Report Introduction  

Much of eastern water law is in a period of transition as states attempt to reform traditional water resource systems in response to challenges posed by population growth, increasing water quality standards, environmental concerns and other factors. Basically, issues of water resource development and use are part of a more encompassing societal trend that reflects a fundamental rethinking of the relationship of people to their environment and the role of government in securing long-term access to resources that are essential to life and prosperity. Each state has a different story to tell about the evolution of common law principals and statutory systems concerning water resources which could form the basis of a separate report . Such an in depth review of each state would, however, be well beyond the scope of this report.

Rather, this report is focused on water quantity issues in the eastern states and provides a broad overview of existing and developing state laws and a sense of how eastern states are responding to increasing pressures on their essential water resources. In this regard, states are indeed proving to be the laboratories of policy as each responds in unique ways based on circumstances particular to that state. At the same time, these efforts to craft water resource policies appropriate for a particular state are leading to a greater realization of the interrelationships and interdependence inherent in the development and use of water resources and a growing sense that with regard to this and other essential natural resource and environmental issues, "we're all in this together."

The report is based on a literature search and review of state water quantity laws, as well as interviews with water resource agency personnel in all of the states that were reviewed for this report. The results of the interviews with state agency personnel were particularly interesting, but should be understood for what they are. The interviews were intended to serve as a check on the accuracy of statutory provisions, to provide a sense of how systems that may look good on paper actually operate, and to highlight particular aspects of a state program that may be interesting, innovative or problematic. As such, the results are based on individual perceptions that could change if different persons were interviewed. Nor should the opinions expressed be considered a definitive statement of the law in a state.

Water Law Report (290 kb adobe acrobat pdf file)


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