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Water laws and legislation

Laws and regulations provide the framework within which water-related policies are put into effect. However, in many developing countries capacity shortfalls mean that it is difficult to enforce elaborate legislation, so that laws relating to water need to take this into account. Among their key purposes are protection of public health, protection of natural resources, and prevention of unfair pricing. Legal instruments provide the mechanism for translating policy into practical implementation. Rules, regulations and standards provide the authority for management and enforcement agencies. They facilitate cross-sectoral actions, provide mechanisms for conflict recognition and resolution of competing interests. Effective regulatory systems are particularly essential for decentralised management, where standards may slip and irregularities occur. The major issues in framing water legislation include ownership of the resource, rights of usage and authority to regulate. Water law is also closely linked to land use in many countries. (See also Regulation and Water ownership; and Chapter 13.)

Further information: Water Resources Institutions, World Bank, 1992

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