On Integrity: Some Considerations for Water Law
62 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2005
In 2003, the federal government issued a stark warning that parts of the nation are running out of water, due primarily to explosive population growth in arid areas. The report predicted a substantial likelihood that water supply crises would occur within the next twenty years in Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake, San Diego, and numerous other areas. But, the problem is not confined to the west. Sprawling urban growth and significant pollution in some eastern areas are causing a simultaneous increase in demand and reduction in supply. The traditional response to shortage has been a quest for more water at all costs, leading to bitter and even violent conflict among competing water users. Even as the nation experiences this impending water crisis, we are also experiencing a crisis of a different kind. The corporate scandals and multi-billion dollar accounting frauds exposed in the 1990s have caused investors to lose faith in the integrity of financial institutions. Might there be a relationship between these two types of crisis, linked by the concept of integrity?
This article offers the notion of hydrologic integrity - basic principles of science, ecology, and social equity - as a touchstone for resolving intractable problems of water policy. Three case studies are presented, including the restoration of the Everglades wetland ecosystem (as considered by the United States Supreme Court in 2004 in South Florida Water Management District v. Miccosukee Tribe of Indians); the evolving fight over transbasin diversions from northern to southern Florida; and the stalled negotiations over the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, which is likely to be presented to the Supreme Court for resolution. Applying principles of aquatic integrity to these case studies, this article suggests a new way for thinking about old water problems.
Keywords: Water law, integrity, Everglades, Miccosukee, Apalachicola, transbasin diversions
JEL Classification: 025, 028, 015, 020
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation