I have always been fascinated with water, especially flowing water. As a young kid my favorite pastime was messing around on a nearby stream; truth be told it was actually a drainage ditch, but it teemed with life year around. I was a nerdy kid, too, and wrote my first school paper on water policy when I was maybe fourteen. In the course of my life I have spent years as an angler, an aquarist, a water lawyer, a kayaker, and a water law professor (although I am currently on inactive status with the first three).
And now, it appears I am a water blogger.
I did not see this coming, although perhaps I should have. I have always loved writing, almost as much as water, so maybe this was bound to happen. And in fact I have written a lot about water–water law, mostly–over the past 20+ years. In that time I have published about two dozen articles in law journals, analyzing various aspects of water law and policy in the western US. (If you are curious, you can find several of them on my SSRN page, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=1313680 .)
It has come to my attention, however, that a lot of people do not read law review articles. This shocked me, of course, because who wouldn’t like reading an in-depth, 60-page analysis of water law, fortified by about 300 footnotes? I am told, however, that there are millions of otherwise decent and reasonable people who forego that pleasure.
If you are one of the few who actually does read law review articles, especially mine, I must sincerely say thank you; you are one of my people. For my part, I will certainly continue writing those articles, and I hope they can make a meaningful contribution to law and policy. But I decided to start a water blog, too, in hopes of sharing my ideas about water in the West with a broader audience.
So why call the blog westernriverlaw, not something more familiar like westernwaterlaw? Partly because traditional “western water law” has an old-school connotation, emphasizing property rights and maximum extractive development of water resources, and this blog will take a broader view of water in the West. (Besides, westernwaterlaw.com was already taken, by a prominent regional law firm.)
I also chose to call it westernriverlaw because rivers matter for their own sake, not simply as conduits for water supplies. In the West, flowing rivers are important ecologically, economically, and recreationally. Those values have always gotten short shrift in western water law, but today they can no longer be ignored or neglected. The name westernriverlaw suggests that any discussion of water policy needs to have a focus on what it means for the river.
And, despite its name, this blog will not be all about law. I expect a major focus on the law–I am what I am–but there are other important matters to discuss. Policy. Management. Institutions. And we can’t forget about attitudes, politics, and values. And I am sure to post the occasional tangential thought or random idea about water, especially if I’ve just returned from a river trip.
Issues of water and rivers are important to the West today, and they have been important to me for decades. So I started a blog to write about them, and get input from others who think and care about them. If you are one of those people, I hope you will come along with me.