Session FT 4.26
Legal water education
Barra Mexicana, Colegio de Abogados
Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Madrid
American Bar Association
Comisión Nacional del Agua
The applicable Mexican legislation in the area of water is broad and complex, however, there are just a few institutions that offer courses in the area of legal education in the area of water in Mexico.
- Courts are often ill-equiped to handle water rights in a water basin that may involve many parties (large cities, Indigeneous people, governmental agencies, commercial and indutrial entities, and large irrigation districts)
- Creating a network of judges experienced in water related cases helps lessening the isolation they usually face to handle these cases.
- Judges are a demanding educationnal audience. Educating them to water related issues asks for appropriate conference and workshop faculty, with high-quality and balanced speakers.
- Funding issues for such educationnal system to be extended and sustained are crucial
- The difficulties in implementing legal water education are basically to gather a multidisciplinary team of professors highly specialised with experiences in topics of water
Key messages and orientations for action
- Continue, improve and expand water legal education
- Sessions on legal aspects at future World Water Forums must increase
Local Actions presented
Dividing the Waters
Mr John E. Thorso, American Bar Association
Dividing the Waters began in 1992 to provide educational services to judges and other judicial officers in the western United States who preside over general stream adjudications. General stream adjudications, pending in 17 western states, are comprehensive judicial proceedings to determine water rights in a water basin or other source of water. Some adjudications (as in Montana) involve all of the water rights and users in the state. Almost all adjudications involve the water rights of large cities, Indian tribes, federal agencies (e.g., National Park Service), commercial and industrial entities, and large irrigation districts. However, even individuals with small rights are involved. As such, these cases can involve hundreds of thousands of water rights and tens of thousands of parties. The cases may take decades to complete with transaction costs exceeding tens of millions of dollars.
Dividing the Waters has expanded to include other types of complex water litigation: interstate apportionment cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court and presided over by Special Masters, litigation challenging water-related administrative actions (e.g., challenges to the water quality standards for the San Francisco Bay-Delta Region, challenges to the multi-faceted CALFED program), and litigation concerning reclamation projects.
Dividing the Waters originated to help judges assigned to complex water litigation better manage and decide these cases. We have attempted to use multi-faceted educational methods (conferences and seminars, technical consultations, web site and email, informal interactions, publications, shared opinions, telephone conference calls) to help these judges. We have worked to enhance the judges capacities to manage complex civil litigation, better utilize alternative dispute resolution methods, understand basic scientific principles in relevant areas (hydrology, modeling, surface and groundwater interaction, in-stream flows, endangered species and their recovery), and learn more in specialized legal areas (water law, Indian law).
Water Legal Education
Mr. Hector Herrerahat, Barra Mexicana, Colegio de Abogados
The applicable legislation to water in Mexico is broad and complex, however, there are just a few institutions that offer courses in the area of legal education in the area of water in Mexico. For the above, a problem was created for those interested in taking training, updating and specialization courses in that area, with a very poor offer of said courses. To attend that problem, the “Barra Mexicana, Colegio de Abogados, A.C.”, through its Continuing Legal Education Committee, organized a Postgraduate on the Legal Regime of Water in Mexico (76 hours in three months), which postgraduate was carried out in 2004 and 2005 and that, given the interest shown by those assisting and the few options for this necessary courses in Mexico, we will be continue with it year after year in an institutional manner. It is worth to say that, despite the profile of said postgraduate was mainly legal, in addition to the legal experts in the area, we also included as professors hydraulic civil engineers, biologists, chemical engineers, among others experts. The difficulties in implementing the activity were basically gathering together a multidisciplinary team of professors highly specialized with experience in topics of water. The claims of improvement before implementing the action (the Postgraduate Study) were mainly from the group of attorneys of the public and private sector, as well as from other professionals and associations of users of water interested on the subject. All of them claim for alternatives for training, updating, and specialization courses in the area of legal education in the area of water. The Postgraduate was carried out in 2004 and 2005 at the Auditorium of the “Barra Mexicana, Colegio de Abogados, A.C.” in Mexico City, with a capacity of up to 100 people. In 2006 it will also be carried out in said Auditorium. In that Postgraduate all those interested can participate, members and non members of the Mexican Bar Association. In that Postgraduate carried out twice we had an important participation of engineers and other professionals different that attorneys but interested in the legal education in the area of water.