Saturday, March 22, 2008

World Water Day - Water Law Resources

World Water Day, an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, is being marked today.

The object is to make access to water a universal human right. In 2002 a UN Committee recognized that water is a public good and that everyone is "entitled to sufficient, safe, acceptable and physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use."

Here is a compendium of water law resources, both Canadian and international, to mark the day.

1) Canada

  • Environment Canada Freshwater Website: under "Water Policy and Legislation" one can find federal, provincial as well as international laws and regulations dealing with water quality, pollution control, and flow regulation; under "The Management of Water", one can find resources on water exports and conservation.
  • Bulk Water Removals: Canadian Legislation (Library of Parliament, May 2007): "On 10 February 1999, the then Foreign Affairs Minister, the Hon. Lloyd Axworthy, and the then Environment Minister, the Hon. Christine Stewart, announced a strategy to prohibit the bulk removal of water, including removal for export, from major Canadian water basins (...) The strategy recognized that the provinces have primary responsibility for water management and that the federal government has jurisdiction over boundary waters to the extent specified in the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty. The strategy also noted that actions by territorial governments will be important as they assume greater responsibility over water resource management. The federal government stated that joint participation was essential to develop and implement a permanent Canada-wide solution to bulk water removal (...) The purpose of this paper is to outline, in chart form, the initiatives thus far taken by the federal government, each of the provinces, and the Yukon within their respective jurisdictions with regard to bulk water removals. In each case, references are made to the relevant sections of the appropriate statute and/or regulations."
  • Freshwater Management in Canada I. Jurisdiction (Library of Parliament, September 2004): "Recent water contamination events such as that in Walkerton, and the national debate in recent years about bulk exports of water to the United States, are Canadian symptoms of a worldwide water crisis. Is Canada ready to deal with the problems associated with this crisis, and how do policy makers foresee the future management of this resource? This first paper in a series ... examines issues of responsibilities and jurisdiction pertaining to water. Canada's unique situation in terms of the distribution of responsibilities among the various levels of government, and the fact that responsibilities for some water issues are shared between the federal and provincial governments, have a major effect on water management across the country..."
  • Freshwater Management in Canada II. Resources, Use and Treatment (Library of Parliament, September 2004): "Canada has more renewable freshwater than other countries. But how much of it is available for use? How well is Canada managing its water resources? ... This second paper ... provides facts about our freshwater resources and their use, examines the threats to water quality and availability, and describes the various wastewater and drinking water treatments in use across the country."
  • Freshwater Management in Canada III. Issues and Challenges (Library of Parliament, January 2005): "This third paper ... examines current issues and challenges pertaining to water. For Canadians, the most prominent water issues in the coming century will be: drinking water quality; water pollution; water use and conservation; bulk water exports; renewal of infrastructure and; privatization of water."
  • Freshwater Management in Canada IV. Groundwater (Library of Parliament, February 2006): "For most Canadians, 'freshwater' means expanses of surface water such as lakes and rivers. But groundwater is just as essential a link in the hydrological cycle as surface water. The two cannot in fact be dissociated. Groundwater is just as essential to life. For almost 9 million Canadians, it is the main source of drinking water, and according to UNESCO more than half the world’s population depends on this source of supply. This paper, the fourth of a series on freshwater management in Canada, focuses on groundwater. Despite being hidden away, groundwater is vulnerable to a number of threats, including climate change and pollution. Protecting it from these threats is vital. But the challenge is complicated by inadequate data about our groundwater. Canadians take access to groundwater resources for granted but this attitude is misguided, largely because of our imperfect knowledge in a number of areas."
  • West Coast Environmental Law - Issues - Water: "Over the past 25 years West Coast has led the way with campaigns to clean up contamination and pollution threatening our water. Our pulp pollution campaign led to regulations on AOX credited with eliminating dioxins and furans from pulp effluent. In the nineties we worked with groups across BC to protect urban streams from development with new streamside regulations. West Coast is focusing on two growing problems in BC: Clean drinking water and cruise ship industry pollution."
  • Canadian Environmental Law Association - Water Sustainability: "The United Nations Environment Program has identified the provision of water as the most important global challenge of the new millennium. As global economic pressures transform the way governments manage water resources, planning is essential to ensure drinking water source protection and equitable public access. Adequate water resources are crucial to population health, food security, biodiversity and ecosystem health. With one-fifth of the earth’s freshwater resources, Ontario must play a key role in planning for world water sustainability and protecting water resources from pollution. The following collections provide CELA’s detailed and summary materials on diverse issues of water quality, quantity, management and protection. "
2) International
  • International Water Law Project: "Created and directed by Gabriel Eckstein [Director, Center for Water Law and Policy, Texas Tech University], the mission of the International Water Law Project (IWLP) is to serve as the premier resource on the Internet for international water law and policy issues. Its purpose is to educate and provide relevant resources to the public and to facilitate cooperation over the world’s fresh water resources." The site includes treaty and convention documents, case law, bibliographies, and links to treaty websites, water law organizations, journals, and discussion lists.
  • WATERLEX: carries the full text of treaties and agreements, bi-lateral and multi-lateral, concluded by sovereign countries in regard to the development and management of rivers and lakes, and/or of groundwater resources, which form an international boundary line or which are bisected by such boundary line (1909 to-date).
  • Water Law and Standards: a joint project of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization. "The legislative section of the database contains an analysis of the legal frameworks governing water resources in selected countries of the world. We have plans to progressively increase the number of countries covered, and to regularly update the analyses stored in the database. The information is broken down into answers to a detailed list of questions about national legal frameworks. FAO developed the list of questions to capture the main features of a country's legal framework on water that a researcher might want to know. The questions include, for example, whether there is a basic water law in the country; what kinds of water it covers; who owns water; who is authorized to use water and how; whether and how pollution is controlled; and the nature of the government's administrative structure for water resources management. The legislative part of the database can be used to examine one country's national legal framework for water, or to compare one or more countries with regard to all or part of their national legislation on water."
  • EISIL International Rivers, Lakes, Groundwater & Wetlands: "This section [of the Electronic Information System for International Law] includes materials providing for regulation of international watercourses, lakes, groundwater and wetlands."
  • UNESCO Water Portal: entry point to UNESCO-led programmes on freshwater. It also provides links to websites of other water-related organizations, government bodies and NGOs through the Water Links and Water Events databases. One of the links is to a series of water law organizations.
  • Bibliography on Water Resources and International Law (Peace Palace Library, The Hague): covers international and regional organizations; topics such as boundary waters or lakes, international waterways and canals, groundwater, wetlands, pollution, settlement of disputes, water as a human right etc.
  • Georgetown University Law Library Water Resources: broken down into general resources, organizations, water resources management, conflict management, geographical regions, and legal instruments.
  • Transboundary Freshwater Treaties and Other Resources: A research guide on the GlobaLex website at the Hauser Global Law School Program at the New York University School of Law. It provides information about major global and regional treaties, databases of international, regional and bilateral agreements, non-treaty instruments, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations, international water commissions such as the Canada-US International Joint Commission as well as sources of caselaw. "Approximately 260 of the world's river basins, with a majority of the world's freshwater flow, cross or create international political boundaries. 145 countries, with close to half of the world's population, are located in international river basins. Although conflicts over water resources date back thousands of years, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the essential role water plays in sustaining human civilization, the nations have found a way to cooperate in sharing and managing water resources. In addition to global conventions and rules governing the use of water resources, hundreds of regional treaties and agreements exist between and among nations, covering a wide range of issues, from border security and navigation to hydro-electric power and water quality and water quantity. Many treaties contain mechanisms for conflict resolution and many establish international commissions for water resource management. In addition to surface water contained in lakes and rivers, the vast majority of the earth's freshwater consists of groundwater held in underground aquifers. Although a 'hidden resource', groundwater serves the basic needs of more than half the world's population and may be the only source of water in arid and semi-arid countries. A far smaller number of international agreements that address the use and sharing of groundwater resources are in place; international principles are still being developed."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:21 pm


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