Curriculum

Water Law

B768 is taught by R. Fischman

Water Law explores the ways in which the United States addresses conflicts over water use. This course examines the legal control of water resources, focusing on water's special status as partially public and partially private property. Topics include riparian water rights (eastern U.S. water law), prior appropriation water rights (western U.S. water law), the historical evolution of water rights, federal water rights, the public trust doctrine, recreational uses, and groundwater use. With the exception of riparianism, most of the water law issues arise from disputes in the western United States; however, water scarcity is increasingly an issue in the east. Though the class will discuss the intersection of water quality and quantity concerns, Water Law focuses on access and allocation policy. Students principally interested in water pollution should take a course in environmental law instead of water law.

Most class sessions will be discussion-oriented. Law students will have the opportunity to work with SPEA graduate students on law-policy problems.

Most required reading will be from the case book, Legal Control of Water Resources (5th ed. 2013), by Thompson, Leshy, and Abrams. Grades will be based principally on a take-home final exam.