The Challenge of Sustainability
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Chapter 17: Evolving Statutory Structures for Water Resources Governance
INTRODUCTION A wide variety of approaches to the governance of water resources across the globe has emerged towards the end of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century. Whatever the doctrinal foundations of their systems and whatever their formal structures, there are many common features. The effectiveness of these systems depends upon their detailed form and structure, and this in turn depends upon the language that expresses them. Before we turn to a review of some examples of these precise details, the arrangements that have evolved over recent years in Chile represent in many ways a model of what has been happening elsewhere. This, both concisely yet comprehensively, provides a synopsis of a contemporary national system of water resources governance. The principal features of the system in Chile are these:1 • according to the constitution water is a national good of public use as it is essential for life, economic development, social objectives and environmental requirements; • the constitutional function of the state as a trustee is to regulate water use so as to achieve these objectives; • every citizen has a constitutional right to live in an environment free of contamination; • there is a constitutional right to seek a remedy in a court for a violation of a right; • individual water users sharing a common source of water comprise water communities with a community of interest in the water; • the relevant public agency is required to manage water resources and the environment in a manner which maintains...
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