A new book on water management features a chapter by Elizabeth Brubaker on the role of property rights in protecting water quality. L’eau entre réglementation et marché, published in France, looks at innovative approaches to managing water quantity and quality and explores market mechanisms that may be more effective and less costly than traditional regulations. Continue reading →
On the surface, a recent B.C. court case seemed to deny a legal right to clean water. But in fact, since the 19th century, common law has given the users of water downstream from a polluter a clear right to seek redress through the courts.
An interview, for CBC Radio’s Ideas program, with Patricia Adams, Elizabeth Brubaker, and Lawrence Solomon. A discussion of the environmental, economic, and social harm wrought in the name of the public good, both in Canada and in the Third World, and of the counterbalancing protections offered by traditional property rights regimes.
This paper, published in Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, was prepared for Property Rights and Environment, an international conference organised by Centre d’Analyse Economique in June 1996. In it, Elizabeth Brubaker reviews the ways in which Canadians have used common-law property rights to protect water quality and chronicles governments’ tendencies to replace the common law with regulations that make it more difficult for individuals to protect waters.
This book draws on cases from England, Canada, and the United States, showing how the common law of property has for centuries been a force for environmental protection, while contemporary statutes have allowed polluters to foul private lands and public resources alike. It argues that individuals and communities should be entrusted with the task of preserving the environment and that, with stronger property rights, they would regain the power to prevent much harmful activity.
Published by Earthscan Publications Limited and Earthscan Canada, 1995
A new book from a conservative think-tank, the Fraser Institute, overflows with essays by prominent water experts promoting the sale of Canadian water to the United States. A recent cover story in Financial Post Magazine boldly declares "Why We Should Sell Our Water to America." The World Rivers Review last year stated that a "thirty year-old plan to send wild Canadian and Alaskan waters through a series of dams, reservoirs, and canals to the U.S. Southwest has gained new momentum." And Jeffrey Simpson, a prominent Globe and Mail columnist, predicts that early in the next century the U.S. and Canada will start debating the export of our fresh water in earnest.
SUMMERTIME, and the beach is polluted. Fish aren’t jumpin’, and no one can swim. If your daddy’s rich, maybe you’ve got a pool. If not, for most people along the shore of Lake Ontario around Toronto, and along the shores of many other lakes and rivers across Canada, the story is "No Swimming," thanks to decades of using the waters as a sewer for industrial and human waste.
The controversy surrounding the K.V.P. pulp and paper mill in the 1940s dramatically illustrates both property owners’ common law rights to clean water and governments’ tendency to override these rights. Three court cases and two laws involving K.V.P. concerned the right of landowners to sue the company for polluting the river adjacent to their land. A brief explanation of “riparian rights” will clarify these cases and the subsequent events.