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Field Guide to Water Rights & Resource Issues

Mark Twain said, “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over.” Indeed, water rights have been a source of conflict and controversy throughout the history of the world. Ever expanding populations and resulting development continue to exacerbate the debate, particularly in the American West. Find resources, statistics, an A to Z water glossary and more on this field guide.


How America Uses Water

  • Electric Power - 48%
  • Irrigation - 34%
  • Public Supply - 11%
  • Industrial - 5%
  • Livestock - <1%
  • Mining - <1%
  • Aquaculture - <1%

Source: Estimated Use of Water in the U.S.—2000, (U.S. Geological Survey, Dec. 2005).


Water Resources & Issues

Western water rights imperiled by Endangered Species Act, (Tucson Citizen, Aug. 13, 2011).

Calif. Counties Denied Priority Water Rights, (Courthouse News Service, Aug. 9, 2011).

Population growth stirs worries about stress on region's water supply, (Atlanta Journal Constitution, May 10, 2011).

What is Groundwater, (Tulane University, Apr. 3, 2011).

Next stage of green building industry to focus on water efficiency, (Realty Times, June 24, 2009).

How Urbanization Affects the Water Cycle, (UC Davis).

Fresh water represents only 2.5%of the world's water resources. Source: United Nations Environment Programme


Water Rights

Drought may dry up water rights, (San Angelo Standard Times, Aug. 12, 2011).

Calif. Counties Denied Priority Water Rights, (Courthouse News Service, Aug. 9, 2011).

Every drop counts; Valuing the water used to generate electricity, (Western Resource Advocates, Jan. 2011).

Leaders: Awash in waste; Water rights, (The Economist, Apr. 11, 2009). Q

Public has right to walk upon privately owned river beds when using state waters, (Appraisal Journal, Winter 2009). Q

Black Ohio neighborhood unjustly denied water for decades, jury finds, (Christian Science Monitor, July 11, 2008).

Tradable Water Rights, (Brookings Institution/Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, Spring 2008).

The Appraisal of Water Rights: Valuation Methodology, (The Appraisal Journal, Spring 2008). Q


Land Use & Water

Groundwater: The Hidden Source of Life (YouTube Video), (Groundwater.org)

How much do we depend on groundwater?, (Groundwater.org).

Linking growth and land use to water supply, (Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Apr. 2003).


Water Quality Issues

U.S. Teen Wins Stockholm Junior Water Prize With Cell Phone Test, (Environment News Service, Aug. 24, 2011).

Drinking water contaminants & potential health effects, (EPA, May 2009).

Tons of released drugs taint US water, (U.S. News & World Report, Apr. 19, 2009).

Storm runoff pollutes drinking water, (video, PBS News Hour, Oct. 9, 2008).

Local drinking water information, (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Apr. 9, 2008).

Healthy water: real estate sales depend on it, (Realty Times, Sept. 2006).


Related Websites

Clean Water Act, (EPA, Aug. 12, 2011).

U.S. Geological Survey, Water Quality Information Pages, (water.usgs.gov, July 7, 2011).

A-Z Water Resources Index, (U.S. Geological Survey).

Water Saver Home, (Room-by-Room Guide, H2ouse).

Water Quality "Glossary"—U.S. Geological Survey

American Water Resources Association

National Groundwater Association Consumer Information

Water Rights Program, (National Park Service).

What is groundwater?, (Groundwater.org).

100 Ways to conserve, (WaterUseItWisely.com, 2009).

U.S. Geological Survey

Water Quiz—U.S. Geological Survey—U.S Water Resources

American Water Works Association

Surf your watershed, (EPA.gov)—search by zip code


eBooks & Other Resources

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Information Central. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Central at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

When the Rivers Run Dry, Adobe eReader

The Clean Water Act handbook, 2nd Ed., (Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 2003). KF 3790 C54

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to Agricultural/Farm Land

Field Guide to Private Property Rights

InfoCentral Blog


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