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Water Resources. 1. Hydrologic Cycle and Water Reservoirs 2. Floods and Flood Control 3. Use of Water 4. Water Composition 5. Water Problems. Who Owns the water?. Surface Water Riparian Rights in the Eastern U.S. Prior Appropriation in the Western U.S. Ground Water

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Water Resources

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Water Resources

  • 1.Hydrologic Cycle and Water Reservoirs

  • 2. Floods and Flood Control

  • 3. Use of Water

  • 4. Water Composition

  • 5. Water Problems

Who Owns the water?

  • Surface Water

  • Riparian Rights in the Eastern U.S.

  • Prior Appropriation in the Western U.S.

  • Ground Water

  • English Rule of Absolute Ownership

  • American Rule of Reasonable Use

  • Western Correlative Rights

American Rule

  • Reasonable Use. The reasonable use rule, or American rule, was developed in the 19th century. Under the American rule landowners are entitled to use ground water on their own land without waste. If their use exceeds this ''reasonable use," the landowner is liable in damages. The American rule may still be followed in a few eastern states, although it is being judicially replaced by the eastern correlative rights doctrine. The reasonable use doctrine is part of the ground water jurisprudence of Nebraska, Arizona, and California.

Western Correlative rights

  • Western Correlative Rights. The California doctrine of correlative rights also initially developed in the 19th century but has continued to develop. Under the correlative rights doctrine, if the ground water supply is inadequate to meet the needs of all users, each user can be judicially required to proportionally reduce use until the overdraft is ended. The policy significance of correlative rights is that each well owner is treated as having an equal right to ground water regardless of when first use was initiated.

Potential Water Problems

  • 1. Limited water supplies in an area

  • 2. Groundwater depletion

  • 3. Soil Deterioration

  • 4. Surface Water Pollution

  • 5. Ground Water Pollution

English Rule

  • Absolute Ownership. The earliest judicial theory of ground water rights is the doctrine of absolute ownership, also referred to as the English rule. Under the absolute ownership doctrine the landowner is, by virtue of land ownership, considered owner of the ground water in place. Thus in absolute ownership jurisdictions a landowner may pump as much ground water as possible, without regard to the effect his pumping has on neighbouring landowners.

1. Limited water supply

  • Examples include

    • The Colorado River

    • The Aral Sea

    • Euphrates River (Turkey, Syria, Iraq)

Colorado River Compact

  • Wy, Co, NM, Utah

  • Ariz, Calif, Nevada

  • Mexico

  • Look to your notes morton

Aral Sea


Turkey, Syria, and Iraq

From Wikipedia

  • The Southeastern Anatolia Project in Turkey involves the construction of 22 dams and 19 power plants by 2005, the biggest development project ever undertaken by Turkey. The first of the dams was completed in 1990. Southeast Turkey is still struggling economically, adding fuel to the discontent expressed by Turkey's Kurdish minority centered there. The Turkish authorities hope that the project will provide a boost to the region's economy, but domestic and foreign critics have disputed its benefits as well as attacking the social and environmental costs of the scheme.

  • In Syria the Tabaqah Dam (completed in 1973 and sometimes known simply as the Euphrates Dam) forms a reservoir, Lake Assad that is used for irrigating cotton. Syria has dammed its two tributaries and is constructing another dam. Iraq has seven dams in operation, but water control lost priority during Saddam Hussein's regime. Since the collapse of Ba'ath Iraq in 2003, water use has come once again to the fore. The scarcity of water in the Middle East leaves Iraq in constant fear that Syria and Turkey will use up most of the water before it reaches Iraq. As it is, irrigation in southern Iraq leaves little water to join the Tigris at the Shatt-al-Arab.

  • Google Earth 36°0′N 38°35′E

2. Groundwater Depletion

  • Results in

    • Drawdown

    • Land Subsidence

    • Salt water intrusion

Groundwater Drawdown

Water withdrawal>Water recharge

  • This results in Water Mining

  • Example: Ogallala Aquifer



SW Kansas

Panhandle Texas

Ground Water Depletion, Chicago


Locations in the basins of southern California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico where substantial ground-water level declines have been measured. In some areas, water levels have recovered in response to reduction in pumping and increased recharge efforts (Leake and others, 2000).

Subsidence due to Groundwater Depletion






Ground Water Decline, USA

This earth fissure formed on Rogers Lake at

Edwards Air Force Base, California, in January

1991, and forced the closure of one of the

space shuttle’s alternative runways. The fissure

has been attributed to land subsidence

related to ground-water pumping in the Antelope

Valley area (Galloway and others, 2003).

http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs-103- 03/JBartolinoFS(2.13.04).pdf

What does the subsidence cause?

  • Damage to well-casings

  • Structural damage to buildings/roads/bridges

  • Movement of buried cables

  • Changes in slopes and efficiencies of canal systems and irrigation systems

  • Increased susceptibility to flooding

  • Reversal of aquifer flows

Salt Water Intrusiona. in Coastal areas


When fresh water is withdrawn at a faster rate than it can be replenished, a drawdown of the water table occurs with a a resulting decrease in the overall hydrostatic pressure. When this happens near an ocean coastal area, salt water from the ocean intrudes into the fresh water aquifer as shown in the diagram. The result is that fresh water supplies become contaminated with salt water as is happening to communities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.


Figure 10. Along parts of the Atlantic coast from Maine to Massachusetts, broad lowland areas were flooded by the sea during the close of the last period of glaciation, approximately 12,000 to 13,000 years ago. This flooding occurred in areas that were temporarily depressed below sea level by the immense weight of the glacial ice (Olcott, 1995). As the glaciers retreated and before the land surface rebounded above the present sea level, there was a period during which seawater submerged these lowland areas, and saltwater intruded the unconsolidated sediments and fractured bedrock that formed the inland seafloor. After the land surface rebounded and the ocean receded, freshwater replaced this saline ground water in most areas. However, in some regions of relatively slow ground-water circulation, the saltwater has been trapped in the sediments and bedrock for about 12,000 years (Tepper, 1980; Snow, 1990). Several wells in Maine that are distant from the coast have yielded water with high chloride concentrations that have been attributed to this trapped seawater.


Salton Sea

  • Google Earth here

3. Soil Deterioration

  • Due to irrigation

  • 1. Water logging

    • If you irrigate faster than water can be removed by drainage systems, soils get water logged, water table will and high rates of erosion occur.

3. Soil Deterioration

  • Due to irrigation

  • 2. Salinization

    • Due to high evaporation rates, there will be a build up of salts in the soils

3. Soil Deterioration

  • Poor and inefficient use of irrigation water has resulted in salinization, nutrient depletion and water logging in an estimated 74 percent of the arable lands in Iraq.

    • http://www.usaid.gov/press/factsheets/2003/fs030605.html


  • Describes the deterioration of previously useful land adjacent to desert regions. This can be due to precipitation changes but generally due to agriculture

Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania

4. Surface Water Pollution

  • Point Source

    • E.g. metals from an industry

  • Non-point source

    • Agriculture and fertilizer

Point Source

  • A. metals

  • B. Hot water

  • C. eutrophication

  • D. Colloform bacteria

Non-point Source (Diffuse in UK)

  • Mostly agriculture: nutrients, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides

    • 66% of P and 75% of N come from this source

Source: Environment Agency (2005)

5. Ground Water Pollution

  • 1. Drilling oil and gas wells

  • 2. Salts from irrigation

  • 3. Fertilizer

  • 4. Septic Systems

  • 5. Oil tanks

Drilling wells


Inactive mines

Septic system

Oil Tanks

World Poor Water



  • Threat of mass arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh

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