This course provides a survey of the key elements of domestic water resources law and policy. Students will study the relevant state and federal law, legal opinions and interpretations, and development of underlying policies relating to water resources. The course will provide an overview of the basic doctrines relating to water law – prior appropriation and riparianism, and will consider hybrid systems of water allocation developed to address today’s needs and challenges. Students will examine the legal issues surrounding groundwater and water as a shared regional resource. The course will review the law of federal and Indian reserved water rights. Finally, the course will address some of the pressing water resources topics of today, such as sustainable management and climate change adaptation, ecosystem management and Endangered Species Act compliance in watersheds and river basins, and strategies for addressing future water needs. Throughout the course, we will consider the successes and failures of water resources law and policy and prospects for effective water resources management, including conservation, infrastructure development, and the importance of science and data. Students will be expected to participate in class discussions, as well as to complete a final paper. This is a two-credit seminar.
- By the end of this course, you should have a good understanding of the legal framework for the administration of domestic water resources. The focus will be on relevant federal and state legal and policy regimes, and the respective roles of the federal and state governments. You should also gain insights regarding the impact and adjudication of Indian water rights into selected international topics. You will learn about certain major river basins which illustrate these concepts.
- During this course, you should attain an appreciation of the history of the development of water resources law and policy, the role this law and policy has played in the development of the United States, and how water resources law and policy has reflected the values of the nation historically.
- The course should provide you with a context for evaluating ongoing legal and policy issues and controversies relating to the current management of water resources.
- The course is intended to help you develop your legal skills. Through role-playing as a part of an in-class exercise, you will consider and practice skills relating to the preparation, writing and oral presentation of testimony and public statements for mock Congressional hearings and mock public meetings. Students will gain experience in considering the perspective of the person they are role-playing and how best to present the position they represent. Through these in-class exercises and the class readings, you should develop practical skills and a greater facility with actual Congressional and administrative documents relevant to many legal practices, in addition to case law.
- Students also will prepare a final paper and present it orally. In doing so, you will have an opportunity to hone your legal writing and oral presentation skills and to develop more in-depth expertise on a water resource issue of your choice.