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A Legal Framework for One Water Management


Conceptualize the framework of One Water and understand the main categories of law in the most common situations.

Water issues such as the Flint, Michigan public health crisis or the breakdown of the Jackson, Mississippi water supply systems create legal dilemmas that confound public works officials, regulators, and attorneys. The difficulty in explaining these complex issues to the public polarizes society and hampers funding and solutions to the problems. Water issues range across societal needs from safe drinking water to the protection of rivers and aquifers, and to security against water-related disasters. While they require effective management, the main control tool is the law of water, which is spread across separate stovepipes of statutes, regulations, and court decisions. The emerging management paradigm of One Water provides a platform to integrate responses to water problems, but the separate laws and regulations pose barriers and controls that often limit choices for water managers. These laws and regulations are central to water governance, and resources are available to explain them for diverse topics, such as water rights, public utility services, flood risk management, and transboundary situations. The session will offer a framework for understanding the most important legal controls on One Water, including categories for water uses, protection of water, regulation of water infrastructure, institutional arrangements, financial arrangements, participation of the private sector, enforcement of regulations, and dispute resolution. The topic will enable engineers, managers, and regulators to form a comprehensive picture of legal controls on One Water, and it will aid attorneys in applying their knowledge and skills to the growing field of water resources management. Participants in the webinar will be able to conceptualize the framework of One Water and explain the main categories of law that circumscribe the available options for water managers and the legal system in the most common situations. The lessons learned will equip water resources managers, engineers, and attorneys to understand regulatory situations and liabilities arising from water issues and to participate in legal actions ranging from regulatory sanctions to litigation.



Neil S. Grigg

Neil S. Grigg

Colorado State University

Neil Grigg

  • Consultant in public works industry in US and other countries
  • State government service with responsibility for environmental regulation
  • Legal experience as Supreme Court appointee and as expert witness
  • Graduate of US Military Academy with experience as Corps of Engineers officer
  • University experience with conflict resolution involving diverse employee issues
  • Involvement in faith and volunteer communities, including Rotary Club
  • Professional association involvement in workforce mentoring program

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