Regulated Riparian Model Water Code
|Publication Date:||1 January 2018|
The Model Water Code Project of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) was begun in 1990 under the direction of Professor Ray Jay Davis of the Brigham Young University School of Law. Its purpose was to develop proposed legislation for adoption by state governments for the allocation of water rights among competing interests and the resolution of other quantitative conflicts over water. Professor Davis enlisted the active aid of a large number of engineers, lawyers, and others interested in improving the administration of water allocation laws in the states of the United States. Input was procured from engineers engaged in working with water in many different ways: government administrators working with water from a variety of perspectives; lawyers representing development interests or environmental interests; business people representing a wide spectrum of industries; academics from disciplines including civil engineering, economics, hydrology, law, and political science; environmental activists; and just plain folks. Several dozen people from such varied backgrounds gave detailed critiques of the drafts of the project. Many of these people also attended two or more meetings per year, during which the drafts were discussed in detail. Probably each person who contributed to this project could pick at least a few points as to which he or she thinks the end products could be improved-the end products are not any single person's efforts, interests, or conclusions. Those involved in the project agree that, overall, the end products are carefully balanced to represent a coherent body of law that would markedly improve the law of water allocation as presently found in many States. (The term "State" is used throughout this Code to refer to a state of the United States, and not to states in the international sense, although such states might also find much of use in this project.)
Originally, the hope was to prepare a single Model Water Code appropriate for any or every State. Although there has been notable convergence among the water laws of eastern and western States over recent decades, there continues to be more divergence than convergence, a divergence that will almost certainly continue for many years. It proved impossible to craft a single Code appropriate for all the States. In the end, two Model Water Codes were prepared-the Regulated Riparian Model Water Code and the Appropriative Rights Model Water Code-reflecting the different needs and legal traditions of eastern and western States. In part because of the decision, made fairly late in the drafting process, to prepare two Model Water Codes, the project remained unfinished when Professor Davis retired from Brigham Young University. In August 1995, Professor Joseph W. Dellapenna of the Villanova University School of Law succeeded Professor Davis as director of the project. Professor Dellapenna had chaired the working group that drafted the regulated riparian version of the Model Water Code. The Regulated Riparian Model Water Code was approved as ASCE Standard 40-03 in 2003. The Appropriative Rights Model Water Code is still being developed into a standard. The original goal is reflected in that each Code contains as much language identical to that in the other Code as possible. A legislature considering revising its water laws should examine both Model Codes.