The Government's Groundwater Grab: An Attack on Property Rights in Quebec

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The government of Quebec is proposing to abolish all private property rights to water and to empower regulators to dictate who may use water, how much they may use, and how they may use it. Proponents claim that such measures are necessary to protect the natural resources of the province. But such overzealous regulation offers no guarantee that water will be apportioned wisely. Instead, it promises to politicize every aspect of water use, dissuade industrial investment, and deprive citizens of basic rights.

If enacted, Bill 92 would declare both surface water and groundwater to be part of the common heritage of the Quebec nation and off limits to appropriation except under the conditions defined by law (Bill 92, Quebec, 2008). Currently, surface water is considered to be a public resource, but legal precedent in the province holds that property owners have a claim to the groundwater beneath their land.

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