Water Resources Management Program

The Environmental Law Institute's focus on Water Resources Management recognizes that institutional frameworks matter profoundly. Watersheds rarely coincide with jurisdictional boundaries. And water management laws and institutions frequently are limited to specific and narrow objectives — such as allocation of water supplies, construction of infrastructure, concern for endangered species, or administration of specific regulatory mandates — without enough attention to the links among these objectives. ELI promotes the integration of programs providing for drinking water and human use of water with management for other resource objectives such as biological health, fisheries, and instream flow. Monitoring, use of environmental indicators for management of water resources, and use of biological measures of aquatic health are key areas of our research.

Featured Areas of Expertise and Resources:

  • Western Water Program: ELI studies the laws governing water resource use and allocation in many Western states, with specific issues ranging from facilitating water markets to incentivizing water use efficiency, reuse, and reclamation.
  • Watershed Policy and Management: ELI examines federal, state, and local measures to protect water resources and assure their availability for use while maintaining the ecological and hydrological integrity of watersheds, estuaries, basins, and groundwater systems. ELI's Sustainable Use of Land in the Chesapeake Bay Program also works to promote new tools that support smart growth and reinvestment across the Bay states.
  • Water and Energy: ELI is examining the relationships between energy extraction and production and demands for water resources. Our ongoing work is identifying mismatches of law and policy and opportunities to transition to an improved energy economy with greater concern for water use, efficiency, and healthy aquatic and hydrologic systems.