The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is calling for public comment on its proposed standard, the Regulated Riparian Model Water Code, which essentially would treat water as public property to be managed by a public agency rather than individual users. The standard reflects the approach adopted in Hawaii and approximately half of the states to the east of the Mississippi River to reform the traditional law of riparian rights. ASCE will conduct a public ballot period for the new standard October 7 November 20, 2002.
The proposed water code addresses the direct use of water only. Examples include ordinary household purposes including immediate human consumption (sanitation and washing), the watering of animals held for personal use or consumption, and home gardens and lawns. It also speaks to the difficult question of multijurisdictional transfers of water, whether across a water basin boundary or across a state line. It does provide some provisions for the coordination of the regulation of all human activity relevant to the waters of the state, but the code does not address directly human activities other than direct uses that, often unintentionally, despoil the waters of the state.
Riparian rights are the basic water law for the states east of Kansas City and in Hawaii. This code addresses concerns arising in the transition from common law riparian rights to a regulated system of rights that are still based on the riparian water rights tradition. "It is an important step in developing a model for those states to consider," said ASCE President H. Gerard Schwartz, Jr., Ph. D., P.E., F.ASCE. "Requesting public comment on the proposed model code is essential to the consensus process used by ASCE in developing its standards."
The public comment process is one of the final stages of the consensus standards development process. ASCE will review and address all comments submitted through the public ballot.
To obtain a copy of the public ballot and standard, send a written request accompanied by a $10 check or money order made payable to ASCE, c/o Kimberly Brubaker, Standards Coordinator, 1801 Alexander Bell Dr., Reston, VA 20191. Payment must accompany the request. ASCE will not accept facsimile requests.