Water Law 101 - the series

WATER LAW 101 is six-part series of articles covering basic water law in the United States, predominately in the western part of the country, and how it affects this finite resource.

Water law has a long history. It can be traced back to Roman times and also has roots in English common law. Across the United States, it varies from state to state, and from East to West. When conflicts arise the courts usually determine the outcome, unless there are state or federal laws or previous case studies to resolve the issue. exceptions to the law can arise from differences in each state’s water laws. Most of the information for this series comes from Water Law, a class taught at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln by Prof. David Aiken. Water law is full to the brim of terminology and definitions – but they all intertwine with each other to make up water law in as we know it today.  

Part 1: The Basics

Basic concepts and legal terms related to water law and explained two basic doctrines that determine water rights or use, riparian doctrine and the doctrine of prior appropriation. 

Part 2: Other Water Rights

Some of the other types of water rights and legal doctrines and concepts that determine how water use is regulated and adjudicated.

Part 3: Surface Water

Terms and definitions used in administering surface-water rights

Part 4: Groundwater

Terms and definitions related to administering groundwater laws and regulations

Part 5: Groundwater wells

Regulating the use of groundwater wells and solving conflicts between well users can be complicated and difficult. Here are some of the concepts and legal doctrines that come into play in the laws and regulations regulating wells in Nebraska.

Part 6: Sharing Water

Some terms and concepts related to sharing water among states.