Water Wars: Law and Advocacy to Save the Great Lakes
The University of Michigan sits in the midst of the most abundant source of surface fresh water in the world and some of the most fascinating legal and policy disputes that will determine its future. The Great Lakes contain 20% of the surface fresh water of the entire planet, and 90% of that of the United States. They not only serve as sources of drinking water and recreation for 40 million people, but also as the economic engine for the region.
Today, the lakes have reached a tipping point. Centuries of use (and abuse) and the increased demand for water from an increasingly thirsty world have created immense and potentially irreversible ecological changes and historic legal conflicts and policy opportunities to accompany them.
In this class, we will learn and experience national, state, and international natural resource law and advocacy through the lens of this unique region. The public trust doctrine, water law, the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws, and even maritime law are all being simultaneously litigated and rewritten in this period of seismic shifts in Great Lakes policy. The class will cover these and other topics through lectures by and discussions with the leaders in the Great Lakes region who right now are remaking Great Lakes law and policy.