About the Reform of Private Water Rights Project

The property law regarding water is a crucial aspect of the framework regulating this fundamental resource. Due to increasing global challenges to water use and availability, many jurisdictions are reforming their water law. This Project will investigate which social, environmental and economic factors should feed into the process of reform of the law of private water rights, this being the property law which regulates what landowners can do with the water running through their land, and how these factors should be balanced in a water rights reform proposal. Due to the interdisciplinary and comparative approach adopted, the research of the Project will develop principles for the reform of private water rights which will be applicable in a variety of jurisdictions.

The three pillars of social justice, environmental protection and economic development are those which make up the concept of sustainable development. Through investigating how these pillars should be balanced in the context of water rights reform, the Project will further research into the broader question of how sustainable development can be integrated into national property law rules. Therefore, the Project will contribute to determining how private law - this being the law between private individuals - can help achieve global goals.

Over the course of the Project, I will undertake comparative legal analysis between Scotland and three other diverse jurisdictions from around the globe to learn from the experience of legal systems reforming their water law. Louisiana, Norway and South Africa have been chosen as comparators as each represents respectively one of the three pillars of social justice, environmental protection and economic development, which are the policy areas under investigation.

I will use the principles for reform created in the Project to draft proposals for a new water rights system in Scotland and therefore, I will also investigate the country-specific factors that need to be taken into account in the law reform process through engaging with policy makers, industry experts and scientists whose work concerns water in Scotland.