The Challenge of Sustainability
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Chapter 6: Individual Water Rights
INTRODUCTION So much for the rights of sovereignty of a nation state and how they are exercised. Let us turn now to the nature of the rights of individuals in relation to water and the sources of these rights. For this purpose individuals are those who have an interest either personally or institutionally in water resources and in the water itself. Water rights are different from water entitlements. The former exist or are recognised generally. The latter are available to identifiable individuals in specific sets of circumstances. Rights in relation to water may be original and inherent on the one hand or contingent and derivative on the other hand. A right in relation to water is original or inherent if it is a natural right or a human right. It exists because of its own rational strength. It is a contingent or derivative right if it is created by a legal instrument such as a constitution or an enactment of a legislature or if it is acquired or granted in accordance with a set of formally recognised or created norms, rules and procedures. Rights in relation to water do not always fit comfortably within this classification. There are in practice arrangements in which rights of one kind overlap with those of another kind. It is nevertheless helpful to begin our analysis in this way. Let us commence by considering natural and human rights in relation to water. NATURAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN RELATION TO WATER A natural right – a right...
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