Water Use Legislation

Water Use Legislation


in the USSR the aggregate of legal norms regulating the use and conservation of water. Problems in buying and selling water used for drinking, therapeutic purposes, and industrial purposes, the relations between water supply enterprises and their users, and other matters are regulated basically by the norms of civil legislation. Water use legislation regulates the given relations only to the degree that is necessary to ensure the proper use and conservation of water.

Water use legislation includes norms concerning the right of state ownership of waters in the USSR and the procedures for using surface water and groundwater in meeting the drinking, everyday, and other needs of the population, as well as heavy and light industry, agriculture, the power industry, the fishing industry, and other areas of the national economy. Another concern of water use legislation is the safeguarding of waters from pollution, contamination, and depletion. Water use legislation also includes norms defining the features of state administration in the area of the use and conservation of water (the control of large basins by special bodies under the Ministry of Land Reclamation and Water Use Management, water cadastre, schemes for the overall use and conservation of water, water-conservation budgeting) and norms dealing with methods of controlling the harmful actions of water (flooding, water erosion of soil, and so forth) and fixing the responsibility for violating laws on water use.

The major provisions of Soviet water use legislation are the exclusive state ownership of water; the planned and proper, primarily complex, use of water resources and the conservation of water; the distribution of water for strictly designated purposes, in most cases free of charge for long-term or permanent use; and the priority of supplying the population with water for drinking and household uses over other uses.

The most important acts of water use legislation are the Fundamentals of Water Legislation of the USSR and the Union Republics, adopted Dec. 10, 1970, and effective Jan. 1, 1971 (Records of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, 1970, no. 50, art. 566); two resolutions of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, On Strengthening State Control of the Use of Groundwater and on Measures for Its Conservation of Sept. 4, 1959 (Collection of Resolutions of the USSR, 1959, no. 17, art. 135) and On Measures for Regulating the Use of and for Strengthening the Conservation of the Water Resources of the USSR of Apr. 22, 1960 (Collection of Resolutions of the USSR, 1960, no. 9, art. 67); and laws on the agricultural uses of water of a number of the Union republics.

The first attempts to codify water use legislation were undertaken at the end of the 1920’s. Various pieces of legislation were adopted, including the Water Reclamation Code of the Byelorussian SSR (1928) and the land and water codes of the Turkmen and Uzbek SSR’s (1929). The water codes of other republics were also worked out.