Such trends affecting and diminishing fresh water resources include: · Population growth and increased use demands; · Development patterns and urban sprawl; · Modern agricultural methods and expansion; · Pollution reducing suitable resources available; · Climate change and its potentially significant hydrology impacts (rainfall levels, drought, storms, snowpack, etc.); · Species protection and enhanced environmental and preservation values; and · Certain growing industries like energy development and their water needs.
- Water quantity and water quality are also inexorably intertwined.
- Water resources issues will only become more and more important in Tennessee and elsewhere as time goes on. When a finite resource faces growing demand and competing users, that can lead to shortages and depletion, and to both small-scale and large-scale disputes.
- Eastern water law has primarily been based on a system of riparian rights for surface water use, and Tennessee has mostly followed such a structure.
- Western states' water law and eastern states' water law have traditionally been very different, and largely remain so today.
- Water supply law still differs considerably from state-to-state even within the same region.
- Surface water and groundwater are intertwined and legally as well as physically, and so the two topics will be blended together in this presentation.
Under this system, with population growth and a shortage of resources, and also with extensive federal and tribal lands and major federal involvement in water management in many systems in the west, there has been a long history of disputes in the west over this valuable and essential resource. Riparianism defines water use rights in association with ownership of land that abuts or underlies a surface watercourse.
Each riparian owner can use water from the water body bordering or crossing his property.
- Water conflicts on larger scales, and not just in smaller localized settings, are becoming more prevalent even in the more water-rich east, as they always have been in the dry west.
- The federal role in water supply, aside from drinking water regulation, is often as manager and arbiter of certain sought-after surface water resources that span state boundaries; but this presence can also add to the conflict and complications.
The right comes along with the land and does not depend on when the use begins or whether the use actually continues, in contrast to prior appropriation.