The Challenge of Sustainability
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Chapter 4: The Doctrinal Foundations of Water Resources Law
THE CHALLENGES OF THE WATER CYCLE (a) Introduction Since there is the assumption that form follows function, a system of rights and obligations in relation to water must reflect the water cycle, the hydrological characteristics of water, the sources and destinations of water, its uses and abuses, and its relationship with humans and their institutions. In this context there is a distinction between water as a resource on the one hand and water as a fungible commodity on the other hand. The former refers to water in its original location and condition and the latter to water in a location and condition in which it can be used. Water in its original location may be water which lies or gathers naturally on the surface of the land; water which flows across the surface of the land either in an indiscriminate fashion or in a naturally occurring watercourse; or water which lies, gathers or flows underground. In consequence of the volatility and fluidity of water and of the phenomena of precipitation and evaporation, it is not possible to identify any particular particle of water compared with any other over either a short or long time span. Add to this the complexity of human interference with water. It may be stored in a reservoir formed after the construction of a dam; it may be collected in an artificially constructed depression on the surface of land; it may be collected in an artificially constructed tank or other receptacle; it may be extracted from...
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