Water Right in water law refers to the right of a user to use water from a water source. In areas with plentiful water and few users, such systems are generally not complicated or contentious. In other areas, especially arid climates where irrigation is practiced, such systems are often the source of conflict. Some systems treat surface water and ground water in the same manner, while others use different principles for each.

In the Water law of the United States, there are two divergent systems for determining water rights. Riparian water rights (derived from English water under the common law) are common in the east and prior appropriation water rights (developed in Colorado) are common in the west. The details vary from state to state. California law, for example, includes elements of both systems.

At the international level, there is growing acceptance of a "human right to water," where the term "right" is used in the sense of genuine rights under international law. The initial focus of human rights law was to address violations of moral values and standards related to violence and loss of freedoms, but in recent decades, the international community has increasingly expanded rights laws and agreements to encompass a broader set of concerns related to human well being. The United Nations approved General Comment 15 in 2002, explicitly acknowledging a human right to water.

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Related LiteratureEdit

  • Gleick, Peter. "A Human Right to Water." Water Policy Vol. 1, No. 5, pp. 487-503.
  • deVilliers, Marq. Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource. Mariner Books (2001), ISBN 0618127445.
  • United Nations General Comment 15. 2002. "Substantive Issues Arising in the Implementation of International Covenent on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights: The Right to Water. New York.