IWRA Proceedings

< Return to abstract list

The U.n. Watercourse Convention And Technological Governance

World Water Congress 2015 Edinburgh Scotland
15. Water law
Author(s): Rhett Larson (Tempe

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 15: Water law,


Introduction: The United Nations Convention on the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (the "Watercourse Convention") makes no reference of technology and its impact on how transboundary waters are shared between co-riparian states. Yet technological innovation has the potential to aggravate or mitigate conflict over international watercourses. Improved drilling techniques have made previously inaccessible deep fossil aquifer available for exploitation. Cloud-seeding will become an increasingly viable water supply augmentation strategy. Desalination has developed into a cost-effective means of accessing new sources of fresh water remediating salinity contamination. These technologies have the potential to change how nations manage shared water resources, particularly where one riparian state has the resources to avail itself of new technologies which allow it to increase or improve its water supply, while externalizing costs to co-riparian states lacking those same resources. In that case, do the principles of the Watercourse Convention require a redistribution of benefits from a shared watercourse? If so, what are the implications of such a requirement for encouraging responsible implementation of beneficial new or developing technologies? Methods/Materials: I rely on case studies, regional water allocation treaties in international river basins, and comparative domestic legal approaches to water apportionment (including the prior appropriation legal distinction between developed and salvaged water) to evaluate how international water rights law can effectively govern technological innovation in the field of water supply augmentation. Results and Discussion: Using examples of deep fossil aquifer drilling in the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer, cloud-seeding in Mali and Niger, and desalination in the Jordan and Colorado River Basins, I propose interpretive approaches to the Watercourse Convention that would encourage innovation and responsible implementation of water supply augmentation and equitable apportionment of augmented supplies between co-riparian nations. Conclusion: I argue for incorporation of the distinction between developed and salvaged water in interpreting the Watercourse Convention. I also propose three elements adjudicative bodies should consider in applying the principles of the Watercourse Convention to disputes over international watercourses involving technological innovation: (1) the relevancy of technology to the dispute over water resources; (2) the reasonableness of the use of the technology; and (3) balancing the interest between encouraging innovation and efficiency against protecting established water rights. Finally, I argue that such interpretation would encourage innovation through (1) adaptive management, (2) collaborative governance at the appropriate level; and (3) legitimacy through shared benefits. 1. Abderrahman,W., Energy and Water in Arid Developing Countries: Saudi Arabia, A Case-Study, 17 INT. J. OF WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT 247 (2010). 2. Burleson, E., Middle Eastern and North African Hydropolitics: From Eddies of Indecision to Emerging International Law, 18 GEO. INT’L ENVTL. L. REV. 385 (2006). 3. Cazurra, T., Water Reuse of South Barcelona’s Wastewater Reclamation Plant, 218 DESALINATION 43 (2008). 4. COLORADO RIVER BASIN SALINITY CONTROL ACT, Pub. L. No. 93-320, 88 Stat. 266 (1974). 5. CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF NON-NAVIGATIONAL USES OF INTERNATIONAL WATERCOURSES (adopted July 8, 1997 UNGA Res. 51/229, Supp. No. 49). 6. Cooter, R., THE STRATEGIC CONSTITUTION, Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey (2000). 7. Craig, R.K., Water Supply, Desalination, Climate Change, and Energy Policy, 22 Pac. McGeorge Global Bus. & Dev. Law J. 225 (2010). 8. Dreizin, Y., D. Hoffman, & A. Tenne, Integrating Large Scale Seawater Desalination Plants within Israel’s Water Supply System, 220 DESALINATION 132 (2008). 9. Ebraheem, A., S. Riad, A. Seif El-Nasr, P. Wycisk, Simulation of Impact of Present and Future Groundwater Extraction from the Non-Replenished Nubian Sandstone Aquifer in Southeast Egypt, 43 ENV. GEOLOGY 188-196 (2002). 10. Eckstein, G., Commentary on the U.N. International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers, 18 COLO. J. INT’L ENVTL. L. & POL’Y 537 (2007). 11. El-Sayed, Y.M., The Rising Potential of Competitive Solar Desalination, 216 DESALINATION 314 (2007). 12. Fathallah, R.J., Water Disputes in the Middle East: An International Law Analysis of the Israel-Jordan Peace Accord, 12 J. LAND USE & ENVTL. L. 119 (1997). 13. Grey, D. and C. Sadoff, Beyond the River: The Benefits of Cooperation on International Rivers, 4 WATER POL’Y 389 (2002). 14. Hall, N., Interstate Water Compacts and Climate Change Adaptation, 5 ENVT’L & ENERGY L. & POL’Y 237 (2010). 15. Helal, M.S., Sharing Blue Gold: The 1997 UN Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses Ten Years On, 18 COLO. J. INT’L ENVTL. L. & POL’Y 337 (2007). 16. Höpner, T. and S. Lattemann, Environmental Impact and Impact Assessment of Seawater Desalination, 220 DESALINATION 1-15 (2008). 17. INTERNATIONAL BOUNDARY AND WATER COMMISSION, MINUTE 242 (Aug. 30, 1973). 18. INTERNATIONAL LAW ASSOCIATION RULES ON INTERNATIONAL WATER RESOURCES, BERLIN RULES (2004). 19. Issar, A., Hokyoun Park, & Yacov Tsur, Fossil Groundwater Resources as a Basis for Arid Zone Development, 5 INT. J. OF WATER RESOURCES DEV. 191-201 (1989). 20. Kim, Y.M., S.J. Kim, Y.S. Kim, I.S. Kim, J.H. Kim, & S. Lee, Overview of Systems Engineering Approaches for Large-Scale Seawater Desalination Plant with a Reverse Osmosis Network, 238 DESALINATION 312 (2009). 21. Larson, R., Innovation and International Commons: The Case of Desalination Under International Law, 2012 UTAH L. REV. 759 (2012). 22. Laughlin, J., D. Wood, & R. Yamada, Co-Located Seawater Deslaination/Power Facilities: Practical and Institutional Issues, 102 DESALINATION 279-286 (1995). 23. Lohman, E., Yuma Desalting Plant, 2003 SOUTHWEST HYDROLOGY 20-23 (2003). 24. McIntyre, O., The Proceduralisation and Growing Maturity of International Water Law, 22 J. ENVTL. L. 475 (2010). 25. Miller, T., J. Thorson, & G. Weatherford, THE SALTY COLORADO (1986). 26. Mohsen, M., Water Strategies and Potential Desalination in Jordan, 203 DESALINATION 27-46 (2007). 27. National Acadamy of Science, COLORADO RIVER BASIN WATER MANAGEMENT: EVALUATING AND ADJUSTING TO HYDROCLIMATIC VARIABILITY, REPORT IN BRIEF (2007). 28. Paul-Wostl, C., Transition Towards Adaptive Management of Water Facing Climate and Global Change, 21 WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 49 (2007). 29. Mason v. Hoyle, 56 Conn. 255, 14 A. 786 (1888). 30. Rahaman, M.M., PRINCIPLES OF TRANSBOUNDARY WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AND GANGES TREATIES: AN ANALYSIS: 25 WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT (2009). 31. RESTATEMENT (THIRD) OF THE FOREIGN RELATIONS LAW OF THE UNITED STATES § 102(2) (ALI 1987). 32. Salman, S., The Helsinki Rules, the UN Watercourses Convention and the Berlin Rules: Perspectives on International Water Law, 23 INT. J. OF WATER RESOURCES 625 (2007). 33. Shata, A.A., Hydrogeology of the Great Nubian Sandstone Basin, Egypt, 15 QUART. J. OF ENG. GEOLOGY & HYDROGEOLOGY 127-133 (1982). 34. Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy Dist. v. Shelton Farms, Inc., 187 Colo. 181, 529 P.2d 1321 (1974). 35. Spagat, E., Mexico’s Newest Export to US May Be Water, Associated Press (Saturday, October 15, 2011). 36. Tarlock, A.D. and P. Wouters, Are Shared Benefits of International Waters an Equitable Apportionment?, 18 COLO. J. INT’L ENVTL. L. & POL’Y 523 (2007). 37. Tarlock, A.D., Four Challenges for International Water Law, 23 TUL. ENVTL. L.J. 369 (2010). 38. Tarlock, A.D., Possible Lessons from a Comparison of the Restoration of the Danube and Colorado Deltas, 19 PAC. MCGEORGE GLOBAL BUS. & DEV. L.J. 1 (2006). 39. TREATY OF PEACE BETWEEN THE STATE OF ISRAEL AND THE HASHEMITE KINGDOM OF JORDAN, 34 I.L.M. 43 (1995). 40. TREATY BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND MEXICO ON THE UTILIZATION OF THE COLORADO AND TIJUANA RIVERS AND OF THE RIO GRANDE, U.S.-Mex., Feb. 3, 1944, 59 Stat. 1219. 41. Tsiourtis, N.X., Desalination and the Environment, 141 DESALINATION 223-236 (2001). 42. Tulou, K. and T. Younos, Overview of Desalination Techniques, 132 J. OF CONTEMPORARY WATER RESEARCH & EDUCATION 3-10 (2005). 43. U.S. Department of the Interior, ADAPTIVE MANAGEMENT TECHNICAL GUIDE 4 (2009). 44. Voutchkov, N., Seawater Desalination Costs Cut Through Power Plant Co-Location, 41 FILTRATION & SEPARATION 24-26 (2004). 45. Wayman v. Murray City, 458 P.2d 861 (1969).

IWRA Proceedings office@iwra.org - https://www.iwra.org/member/index.php