Golden Rules: The Origins Of California Water Law In The Gold Rush

Hardcover | July 10, 2015

byMark Kanazawa

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Fresh water has become scarce and will become even more so in the coming years, as continued population growth places ever greater demands on the supply of fresh water. At the same time, options for increasing that supply look to be ever more limited. No longer can we rely on technological solutions to meet growing demand. What we need is better management of the available water supply to ensure it goes further toward meeting basic human needs. But better management requires that we both understand the history underlying our current water regulation regime and think seriously about what changes to the law could be beneficial.

For Golden Rules, Mark Kanazawa draws on previously untapped historical sources to trace the emergence of the current framework for resolving water-rights issues to California in the 1850s, when Gold Rush miners flooded the newly formed state. The need to circumscribe water use on private property in support of broader societal objectives brought to light a number of fundamental issues about how water rights ought to be defined and enforced through a system of laws. Many of these issues reverberate in today’s contentious debates about the relative merits of government and market regulation. By understanding how these laws developed across California’s mining camps and common-law courts, we can also gain a better sense of the challenges associated with adopting new property-rights regimes in the twenty-first century.

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From the Publisher

Fresh water has become scarce and will become even more so in the coming years, as continued population growth places ever greater demands on the supply of fresh water. At the same time, options for increasing that supply look to be ever more limited. No longer can we rely on technological solutions to meet growing demand. What we need...

Mark Kanazawa is professor of economics at Carleton College.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:July 10, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022625867X

ISBN - 13:9780226258676

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Economic Theory and the Evolution of Water Law
Chapter 3: Water and the Technologies of Mining
Chapter 4: Watering the Diggings: The Development of the Ditch Industry
Chapter 5: The Informal Law of the Mining Camps
Chapter 6: Origins of the Common Law of Mining and Water Rights
Chapter 7: The Origins of Prior Appropriation
Chapter 8: Water Quality and the Law of Nuisance
Appendix A
Chapter 9: Bursting Dams and the Law of Nuisance
Appendix B
Chapter 10: Conclusions
References
Index

Editorial Reviews

“ The value of Kanazawa’s interpretation lies in its unique interpretation of contemporary events.  Where economic historians emphasize water scarcity as the primary driver of law, Kanazawa argues that a sort of dialectical process of court-based legal rules emerged and shaped legislation. . . . This is an invaluable addition to the literature on water rights and the economics of law. . . . Highly recommended.”