Much of the battle to preserve and protect water resources happens at the state and local levels – in any number of policy choices advocated and made by individuals, organizations, companies, and governments. In recent years, water activists have begun to deploy a new tool geared to shape these decisions. Long-established in legal jurisprudence, the public trust doctrine holds that certain natural resources belong to all and cannot be privately owned or controlled because of their intrinsic value to each individual and society.
Restoring The Trust: Water Resources & The Public Trust Doctrine, A Manual For Advocates, by CPR Member Scholar Alexandra Klass and Policy Analyst Yee Huang, explores the specific application of the public trust doctrine to the protection of surface water and groundwater resources. The Manual introduces water and environmental advocates to both the opportunities and limitations of applying the doctrine to water protection efforts and encourages reconsideration and reassessment of the legal doctrine to confront the challenges facing modern freshwater management at the state level. The Manual identifies areas where the public trust doctrine applies to existing state water laws and in litigation (an accompanying index shows the state constitutional and statutory provisions and cases on water resources & the public trust doctrine)
Yee Huang previewed the report in a series of blog entries: