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Water Rights and Agriculture: Earning a MSL Degree

Water is the most precious resource on this planet. We are all water users in some way. Groundwater sustains life and is home to various creatures. It is an energy source as well, providing an alternative option to the fossil fuels that are finite and depleting, as well as harmful to our atmosphere.

As with any natural resource, the management of water rests with humans and therefore is surrounded by rules and regulations to keep it safe from contamination. Water law exists in many forms, covering everything from water systems to water quality and everything in between. Environmental advocates persist diligently to ensure that our most important resource continues to thrive.

When it comes to water rights and agriculture, earning your master’s degree allows you to be at the forefront of environmental activism. The degree opens the door to a variety of career paths so that you can transform public policy.

Transforming Public Policy

The Clean Water Act 

Perhaps one of the most influential pieces of legislation that exists in water law is the Clean Water Act (CWA). It was enacted in 1948 by Congress as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. In 1972, public awareness was growing about water pollution and its dangers. Water pollution was causing illnesses, disorders, and even reproductive issues. This led to the movement for amendments to the Act, which occurred in 1972. Carried out and enforced by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Clean Water Act has the following six provisions:

  • Research and related programs (Title I)
  • Grants for construction of treatment works (Title II)
  • Standards and enforcement (Title III)
  • Permits and licenses (Title IV)
  • General provisions (Title V)
  • State water pollution control revolving funds (Title VI)

The results of the Act are simple: it establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters.

The CWA was one of the first environmental laws passed in the United States and is one of the most influential. Even though many would think that something as universally negative as water pollution would have bipartisan support, it was shockingly vetoed by President Nixon after passing in the House and Senate. Both parts of Congress overrode Nixon’s veto with overwhelming bipartisan support. The journey included:

  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 2770 by Edmund Muskie on October 28, 1971
  • Committee consideration by the Senate Public Works Committee
  • Passed the Senate on November 2, 1971 (86-0)
  • Passed the House on March 29, 1972 (passed)
  • Reported by the joint conference committee on October 4, 1972; agreed to by the House on October 4, 1972 (366-11) and by the Senate on October 4, 1972 (74-0)
  • Vetoed by President Richard Nixon[1] on October 17, 1972
  • Overridden by the Senate on October 17, 1972 (52-12)
  • Overridden by the House and became law on October 18, 1972 (247-23)

At the helm of it all were lobbyists, politicians, and writers who moved the needle to get the CWA to what it is today.

Water Resources

Water resources are sources of water that are useful for things like drinking, bathing, and washing. They are used by animals, humans, and plants alike in order to survive. Here are some interesting water supply statistics:

  • 71% of the Earth is covered in water
  • Of that 71%, 97% of it is salt water, which provides a home to all of the aquatic creatures but is not a water resource to help us live. The 3% amount of water exists as surface water, under river flow, groundwater, and frozen water
  • Of that 3%, 69% is in glaziers and frozen ice caps, 30% is underground, and less than 1% is located in rivers, lakes, and swamps.
  • This means that only 1% of water is usable by humans

One percent is a small percentage to serve almost 8 billion people, not to mention any other creatures that may need it as well.

Luckily, water is a constantly renewable resource thanks to rain and weather. And yet, water resources are under constant threat of attack, from water scarcity, water pollution, water conflict, and climate change. Public policy comes into play when it comes to the quantity of water and how it is protected. Even in aspects such as agricultural production – where water is the fuel driving business – regulations that work to keep the earth from getting drained of its resources are vital.

National Parks

Within the United States, there are 429 national parks throughout all four corners of the country. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are over 6,500 national parks today. They are important for a variety of reasons:

  • Provide a home for many species, especially threatened native ones
  • Protect the environment from threats
  • Prevent land clearing
  • Prevent pollution
  • Protect from invasive species
  • Prevent urban development
  • Keep wildlife intact
  • Maintain biodiversity

Parks exist on the state, local, and national levels. Despite holding such importance, they are also under threat from humans. People who come into parks and litter or cause disruption can have an effect. Parks provide a place for people to be in touch with and awe in nature. This in theory should create enough of an investment that people look to protect these great places and preserve our rich natural diversity.

Not only can people pass rules and regulations to help protect our parks, but they can also work as fundraisers, campaign managers, and heads of conservatory nonprofit organizations whose mission is environmental activism. All of these career paths are open to graduates of our Online Master of Science in Law MSL program.

Enroll At McGeorge Today

Humans drain the resources on this earth. We must fight for the longevity of our resources so as to ensure the longevity of our species. Scientists warn about the point of no return if climate change continues to destroy this planet that we call home. If you are impassioned about environmental activism, McGeorge School of Law can get you there. Our school is one of the top 10 public policy schools in the nation, receiving an A ranking from PreLaw magazine Our MSL program lets you work in public policy and hold space for impact in your career.

Not only do our students graduate from a top nationally ranked program, but they can rest easy on their educational journey, as it is fully online. Courses can be done on your own schedule so that students can structure their coursework and class time around other commitments, whether they are professional or personal. Our faculty aids our students in personalizing coursework plans to meet their goals. 

Being a fully online student does not detract from the wealth of resources that McGeorge has to offer. Our faculty are experts in their field and give our graduates a strong foundation to build their careers in public policy. Graduates go on to become local, state, and federal agency employees, as well as lobbyists and legislative staff. The McGeorge network is expansive, and you can be a part of it. Contact our admissions office today to get started on your journey.

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