chapter  3
23 Pages

Legal aspects of groundwater

This chapter provides an overview of groundwater legislation, and together with Chapter 4 on economics, prepares the ground for the discussion of transferable groundwater rights in Chapters 5 and 6. It has a similar objective to Chapter 2, but from the perspective of a technical or non-legal person who, while not wishing (or indeed needing) to become a legal expert, would still find it useful to become acquainted with the more significant aspects of water law. The chapter begins with a short account of the development of groundwater law. It continues with a brief review of more general water law traditions, starting with the ancient hydraulic civilisations of Egypt and Mesopotamia and concluding with modern water legislative systems. Roman law, civil law and English common law receive particular attention as they have formed the basis of water legislation in many countries. A section follows on international groundwater law, which is still in the process of development. The last section deals with groundwater rights. It includes descriptions of the historic water right doctrines (absolute ownership, riparian and prior appropriation) and of the more recent permit system.