Ralph W. Johnson, Water Pollution and the Public Trust Doctrine, 19 Envtl. L. 485 (1989), https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/faculty-articles/479
public trust doctrne, water pollution
Nonpoint pollution from irrigation return flows has become a serious national problem. Even the extraction of water for irrigation and other purposes causes pollution by reducing the assimilative capacity of the source stream or lake. Such pollution can be regulated either by the courts or the legislatures under the public trust doctrine, which antedates the prior appropriation system, and which protects fisheries and water quality. Alternatively, this pollution can be controlled under the state's police powers. The "takings" issue should not be troublesome because no one, not even prior appropriators, has or can acquire a legal right to pollute public waters.