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Different Countries, Different Laws

I’m only one week into my research here in Australia, and I can say with certainty that I’m glad to have taken Water Resources Law last semester. Water law and policy is definitely different here in Australia, but understanding US water law is definitely helping me to navigate through the terms, policies, and laws here.

I don’t want to go too far into the weeds, but one major difference is takings law. We spent a fair chunk of the semester learning about this, and it doesn’t even really apply in the Australian situation. If the Government wants to, it can just take back water rights without compensating the owners of those rights. That’s definitely not the case in the US.

Another major difference is the minimal presence of NGOs. NGOs play a major role in the US, influencing policy, increasing environmental flows, and working for a healthier environment. Here, the Government fills that role, and people are really OK with that.

Also, there is no Endangered Species Act here, which is a major cornerstone of environmental law in the US. Most of the push for improving environmental health comes from public discontent with the current poor health of the Murray Darling Basin.

Although there are some major differences between laws in the US and Australia, I’m definitely looking forward to learn about what policies here might be helpful in managing water resources back in the US, and vice versa. Should be an interesting journey… stay tuned!

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