L'EAU, CHOSE COMMUNE: UN STATUT JURIDIQUE A CONFIRMER
AbstractThis article is based on a paper submitted to the Commission sur la gestion de l'eau au Quebec during the important public hearings recently held in that province. Part A deals with the legal status of water in Quebec. The Government of Quebec has recently taken the position that according to Quebec civil law, groundwater is privately owned by the owner of the land where it is located. This interpretation, in our view, is ill founded: groundwater, like surface water, is a res communis. Part B examines the legal status of water in the common law provinces. The law of those provinces does not grant individuals any proprietary rights in the water itself, only rights to use. The title to water is sometimes said to be vested in the Crown. However, what is meant is not a proprietary right in the water, but a public trust to protect the resource and control its use by individuals, in the public interest.
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