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Water Law

Law School LAW - Law School

Course Description

This course will study how society allocates and protects its most crucial natural resource -- water. The emphasis will be on current legal and policy debates, although we will also examine the history of water development and politics. The course will focus on United States law and policy, but insights from the course are applicable to water regimes throughout the world, and we will occasionally look at law and policy elsewhere in the world for comparison. Among the many issues that we will consider are: how to allocate water during periods of scarcity (particularly as climate change leads to more extremes); alternative means of responding to the world's growing demands for water (including active conservation); the appropriate role for the market and private companies in meeting society's water needs; protection of threatened groundwater resources; environmental limits on water development (including the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the "public trust" doctrine); constitutional issues in water governance; the human right to water; Native American water rights; protection of water quality; challenges to the substantive reform of existing water law; and interstate and international disputes over water. Students will be expected to participate actively in classroom discussions. Elements Used in Grading: Class participation, attendance and final exam.

Grading Basis

L01 - Law Honors/Pass/Restricted credit/Fail





Course Repeatable for Degree Credit?


Course Component


Enrollment Optional?



LAW2519 is a completion requirement for: