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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Allocating ground water in the Great Lakes Basin : an anaylsis [i.e. analysis] of international and domestic law and policy Morris, Timothy James

Abstract

Ground water is a critical element of the ecosystem in the Great Lakes Basin. It is an integral component of a dynamic hydrological system that is the lifeblood for this region's remarkable natural diversity. It is also an important human resource. Unfortunately, intensive ground water withdrawals are resulting in negative consequences that are often hidden from view but which are causing social conflicts and environmental degradation. This thesis considers the failure of courts and governments to implement laws for allocating ground water rights according to hydrological reality and the collective interests of affected communities. Legal mechanisms are rooted in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Despite rapid growth and the considerable pressure now exerted on ground water resources, courts and governments continue to allow, and even encourage unrestricted ground water withdrawals. The underlying ideology of state institutions within the Basin is contributing to the systematic undervaluation of environmental and long term interests of present and future generations. A reinvigorated concept of sustainability, one that is based on the ideals of deliberative democracy, would better represent these interests in decisions concerning the allocation of ground water. Through the process of ground water allocation planning, decision-making can be guided into a preventative and community-oriented approach that more accurately reflects the long term interests of the Basin.

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