International Lessons for the American West and Beyond
Edited by Douglas S. Kenney
6. Sustainability and the future of western water law Lakshman Guruswamy and A. Dan Tarlock INTRODUCTION The chapters in this book clearly demonstrate that the American West is not the only region on the planet challenged to manage better its scarce water. The problems of policy and law confronting the American West are common to other parts of the world. The question is: what are the appropriate institutional models and legal principles to address them? Unfortunately, the answer is not as easy as it once seemed. At one time, the United States was the undisputed leader in water policy. It initially adapted the experience of the British Empire and Spain to the arid and semi-arid West and used this experience to build the institutions necessary to sustain the settlement of the region (see Chapter 1). But, the chapters in this volume also demonstrate that the United States is lagging behind other parts of the world in adapting to changed water use demands. The old model of optimum river basin development no longer encompasses the full range of economic, environmental and social dimensions of modern water use. We want water to serve traditional consumptive and non-consumptive demands, to support aquatic ecosystems and to help sustain deﬁned communities such as indigenous peoples. Most countries of the world are attempting to apply an expanded version of sustainable development to construct a new water use policy. We argue that there is a need to construct a new western water use policy and that...
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