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Hoover Dam

Water Rights & Resources

A highly editorialized and affordable database for understanding state & federal laws governing water.

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About the Water Rights & Resources Database

For those of us who take for granted the ready availability of water flowing from our taps, the concept of water rights may seem strange or confusing. Water rights refers to the right of a user to access water from a particular source. It is one facet of the complex network of water laws that address a multitude of facets over water at both the state and federal level. In the United States, water law focuses on both water use and protection. Learn more about water rights in our LibGuide!

HeinOnline’s Water Rights & Resources is an affordable, comprehensive, and timely collection that is dedicated to understanding the complex interplay of state and federal laws that govern all aspects of water in society, from municipal use to restoring its pristine condition. Collecting congressional documents, books, legislative histories on major legislation, and Supreme Court briefs on related cases, this database touches on a wide range of water issues, including irrigation, hydropower, riparian rights, water conservation, drinking water quality, and tribal water rights, encompassing the unique water rights issues that span from the Eastern seaboard to the Great Lakes and across the arid West. In the face of so much uncertainty, water rights and how to use our water resources becomes even more vital to understand.

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Subject-Coded Content for Simplified Searching

To help users navigate the content spanning this extensive database, HeinOnline editors have created 16 new subjects. Explore these new subjects and their scope below:

The Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, is the primary federal law governing water pollution in the United States. Its reach is far: it bans the discharge of any pollutant into navigable rivers (without a permit), sets wastewater standards and water quality criteria, and sets a statutory definition for the term “waters of the United States.”

According to the Department of Energy, hydropower accounts for 6.3% of total U.S. electricity generation. Giant dams such as the Hoover Dam feature prominently in our conception of hydropower, but hydropower can be generated by small municipal facilities—or even through “damless” facilities.

Every other use and application of water is secondary in importance to the ready availability of clean water for drinking.

Find titles related to the ever-increasing scarcity of water. 

A complex network of dams, levees, and dikes attempt to corral and control our nation’s rivers.

Groundwater is water that exists underground in cracks and spaces in soil, sand, and rock. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, groundwater is the source of about 40% of water used for public supplies and 39% of water used for agriculture in the U.S. For rural populations, groundwater provides drinking water for 90% of rural Americans who cannot get their water from a municipal water department.

This subject covers the cooperative international efforts to use, protect, and manage international waters, and water issues outside the United States.

Irrigation is vital to agriculture. It artificially supplies water to crops through various systems of tubes, pumps, and sprays, rather than relying on the unpredictable whims of weather and rainfall. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it is estimated that about 70% of all the world’s freshwater withdrawals go towards irrigation. 

In simple terms, an estuary is an area where a freshwater river or stream meets the ocean.

A river basin is the land that water crosses on its way to a river. Even if you do not see a river nearby, you live in a river basin. Actions upstream affect the water quality (and quantity) of the river or stream downstream. River basins drain into rivers, which flow into an estuary, and then into a larger lake or ocean.

Part of the convenience of modern life depends on our advances in plumbing and waste disposal. These modern marvels make up a central part of any nation’s water infrastructure. When they break down, it really, really stinks.

Find information on the mechanisms and large-scale projects by which water is stored and delivered for us.

Water management refers to the controlling water in such a way that its beneficial uses are maximized while its protentional harms, such as flooding, are minimized. Water management programs exist at both the state and federal level. Smarter water management programs, such as rainwater recovery and more efficient bathroom fixtures, will become more valuable as climate change makes water a more precious resource.

Topics covered under this subject include riparian and littoral rights, prior appropriation, tribal water rights, and disputes over water claims.

This subject covers issues of water delivery, water sources, and the technologies used to supply the thirsty masses with water.

Sometimes used interchangeably, a watershed is an area of land that drains all streams and rainfall into a common outlet. This can be the mouth of a bay or a reservoir. Although very similar to a river basin, a watershed is used to describe a smaller area of land that drains into a smaller body of water. Watersheds are found within a river basin.

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