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Water Rights & Resources

This collection focuses on the various uses for water, from hydropower, to agriculture, to drinking water, and how increasing pressures on water supply from climate change exacerbates historical tensions over who has access to water for what purpose.

Documents and Content


HeinOnline editors have created 16 new subjects to help users discover the content most relevant to their research. Every title in this collection has been analyzed by HeinOnline editors and assigned one or more subjects based on its subject matter. Explore these new subjects and their scope below:

Clean Water Act

The Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, is the primary federal law governing water pollution in the United States. Its reach is far: it bans the discharge of any pollutant into navigable rivers (without a permit), sets wastewater standards and water quality criteria, and sets a statutory definition for the term "waters of the United States." Learn more about one of America's most famous environmental laws with: 

Dams and Hydropower

According to the Department of Energy, hydropower accounts for 6.3% of total U.S. electricity generation. Giant dams such as the Hoover Dam feature prominently in our conception of hydropower, but hydropower can be generated by small municipal facilities—or even through "damless" facilities. Learn about the electric role dams and hydropower play in our society with:

Drinking Water

Every other use and application of water is secondary in importance to the ready availability of clean water for drinking. Explore this vital issue with:

Drought and Water Scarcity

Find titles related to the ever-increasing scarcity of water. Available titles include:

Floods and Flood Control

A complex network of dams, levees, and dikes attempt to corral and control our nation's rivers. Learn about these efforts with:


Groundwater is water that exists underground in cracks and spaces in soil, sand, and rock. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, groundwater is the source of about 40% of water used for public supplies and 39% of water used for agriculture in the U.S. For rural populations, groundwater provides drinking water for 90% of rural Americans who cannot get their water from a municipal water department.

International Bodies of Water

This subject covers the cooperative international efforts to use, protect, and manage international waters, and water issues outside the United States.


Irrigation is vital to agriculture. It artificially supplies water to crops through various systems of tubes, pumps, and sprays, rather than relying on the unpredictable whims of weather and rainfall. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it is estimated that about 70% of all the world's freshwater withdrawals go towards irrigation. Water your meadow of curiosity with:

Oceans and Estuaries

In simple terms, an estuary is an area where a freshwater river or stream meets the ocean. This subject covers these important bodies of water.

River Basins

A river basin is the land that water crosses on its way to a river. Even if you do not see a river nearby, you live in a river basin.  Actions upstream affect the water quality (and quantity) of the river or stream downstream. River basins drain into rivers, which flow into an estuary, and then into a larger lake or ocean. Learn how natural water systems intersect with:

Sewers and Sewage

Part of the convenience of modern life depends on our advances in plumbing and waste disposal. These modern marvels make up a central part of any nation's water infrastructure. When they break down, it really, really stinks.

Water Delivery and Storage

Find information on the mechanisms and large-scale projects by which water is stored and delivered for us with these titles :

Water Management

Water management refers to the controlling water in such a way that its beneficial uses are maximized while its protentional harms, such as flooding, are minimized. Water management programs exists at both the state and federal level. Smarter water management programs, such as rainwater recovery and more efficient bathroom fixtures, will become more valuable as climate change makes water a more precious resource.

Water Rights and Claims

Topics covered under this subject include riparian and littoral rights, prior appropriation, tribal water rights, and disputes over water claims.

Water Supply

This subject covers issues of water delivery, water sources, and the technologies used to supply the thirsty masses with water.

Watersheds and Drainage Basins

Sometimes used interchangeably, a watershed is an area of land that drains all streams and rainfall into a common outlet. This can be the mouth of a bay or a reservoir. Although very similar to a river basin, a watershed is used to describe a smaller area of land that drains into a smaller body of water. Watersheds are found within a river basin.

Committee Prints and Congressional Hearings

The deliberations of Congress provide insight both into issues requiring federal attention and their proposed solutions.

Committee prints:

  • provide "background" information on the topics handled by different congressional committees.
  • Includes legislative or research activities, as well as other matters such as memorial tributes.
  • Excellent resource for statistical and historical information, and for legislative analysis.

A congressional hearing is a meeting or session of a Senate, House, joint, or special committee of Congress. They are held:

  • to obtain information and opinions on proposed legislation
  • conduct an investigation
  • evaluate/oversee the activities of a government department or the implementation of a federal law
  • provide testimony and data about topics of current interest.

Most hearings are published two months to two years after they are held. It provides a transcript of the proceedings for the general public.

Some Committee Prints of Note:
Some Congressional Hearings of Note:


CRS and GAO Reports

What are these agencies?

  • The Congressional Research Service is a public policy research institute of the U.S. Congress
    • Its job is to help Congress form sound policies based on analysis and research
    • Access CRS Reports on topics other than water rights and resources by navigating to HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents database and selecting the CRS Reports subcollection
  • The General Accountability Office is a legislative branch agency
    • It provides auditing, evaluation, and investigative services for the U.S. Congress
    • Staff produce reports and written correspondence, testimonies and statements for the record, briefings for congressional staff members, and more
    • Access GAO Reports on topics other than water rights and resources through HeinOnline's dedicated GAO Reports and Comptroller General Decisions database
Some reports of note:


The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) represents the current statutory positions of the federal government.

Published annually, the CFR is divided into 50 titles (aka topics, subjects, etc.) that are the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the federal government.

Extracted within this database are the following relevant titles:

CFR Title 18: Conservation of Power and Water Resources

CFR Title 33: Navigation and Navigable Waters


Legislative Histories

Legislative histories present the journey of a bill as it becomes a law, with all its changes, additions, deletions and various legislative hurdles.

Some legislative histories of note included in this database are:


Supreme Court Briefs

Access briefs filed in cases appearing before the U.S. Supreme Court on water law issues. These briefs contain the arguments and positions of parties in the cases. 

Some of the briefs in this database include:

Other Related Works

Browse hundreds of books, reports, treatises, and more ranging in date from the 1800s to present day. Trace the history of water disputes in the western United States, explore the geological differences in water rights, and discover the similarities between the water problems of the present with those of the past.  

Some titles you may want to check out include:

Display of Other Related Works subcollection


Browse various publications that serve as forums for the exchange of ideas, information, and legal and policy analyses concerning water law.

Including titles such as:


A list of titles hand-picked by HeinOnline editors. Use the linked OCLC number to find a physical copy of the book at a library near you.

Bibliographic list of articles related to water rights

Scholarly Articles

Access hundreds of articles* selected by HeinOnline editors on water policy, environmental issues in water rights, indian water rights, reclamation projects, and more. Sort articles by Title, Author, Most-Cited, or Year, or search the list by Title or Author.

Bibliographic list of journal articles on water rights.

*In order to access the scholarly article links, you must be subscribed to the appropriate HeinOnline collection(s).