I asked a wider version of this question here http://bit.ly/Qxcvy7 but I think the answer stream started to get too broad. Just to hone in on the issue, I am asking a hopefully more focused version of the question: should a given property owner that owns the headwaters of a river be allowed to dam it up even if many other people downstream totally depend on the water ? Assume that the owner in question wants to raise fish and needs an artificial lake (i.e. a perfectly reasonable desire). Do "downstream" residents have any rights to water or do they exist at the mercy of the owner of the headwaters? Assume that damming the river would reduce the downstream flow to a trickle and would not be sufficient for downstream residents needs. This is admittedly a "thought experiment" but it captures the concern about property rights not having enough consideration of natural ecosystems (including human ecoystems) that exist across the boundary lines. I got some pretty interesting answers to my earlier query but I wanted to get a clear, practical answer to this situation?
asked Oct 19 '12 at 17:48