Looking Through Cloudy Waters — A Historical Analysis of the Legislative Declarations of Crown Water Rights in Alberta
AuthorWenig, Michael M.
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AbstractThis paper analyses a keystone of the legislative framework for water rights — the legislative declarations of government or Crown rights to water in Alberta. These declarations originated in the first water rights legislation adopted by Parliament in the late 1800s, but they have been changed numerous times, resulting in a dynamic, complex and arguably confusing evolution. Viewed both individually and collectively through their evolutionary history, these rights declarations arguably raise more questions than they answer. Chief among these questions are: What purpose have they served? What non-legislative public or private rights and public duties have they recognized? Are either the declared rights, or the private rights issued from Crown rights, in the nature of “property”? And finally, is there any current legal effect of the widely varying Crown rights declarations over time? If nothing else, the numerous legislative formulations of this declaration over the years indicate that the concept of Crown rights to water is itself murky and, thus, should be clarified as part of any effort to reform the allocation system.
SponsorshipAlberta Law Foundation
This paper was prepared as part of a research project on "Water for Life" funded by the Alberta Law Foundation.