This new video was submitted by FLOW – For Love of Water to help explain how the public trust doctrine applies to water. Here’s FLOW’s introduction.
Although it’s over a thousand years old, the public trust doctrine has relevance to struggles over climate change. The doctrine holds that certain natural resources, especially water, cannot be privately owned and that government has an affirmative duty to assure that public uses of these resources are not impaired.
The doctrine protects public uses of rivers and lakes, including the Great Lakes, and tributary groundwater. And now plaintiffs in a landmark lawsuit are invoking the doctrine because of the effect that climate change will have on water resources.
If the concept of public trust seems difficult to grasp, a video may help. It is based on the work of nationally known environmental attorney Jim Olson, founder and president of the Traverse City-based law and policy center, For Love of Water (FLOW). Produced by Dan Bertalan of Candlemoth Media, the video contains the basics about the history and importance of this vital legal tool.