Wheeler Institute for Water Law & Policy

Hetch Hetchy

The Wheeler Institute for Water Law & Policy at Berkeley Law's Center for Law, Energy & the Environment

The mission of the Wheeler Institute for Water Law & Policy is to develop innovative law and policy solutions to critical water issues through interdisciplinary research, analysis, and collaborative engagement. 

The Institute is dedicated to advancing freshwater quality and conservation in California through developing solutions at the intersection of law, policy and science.  The Wheeler Institute’s deliverables include:

  • Policy reports and white papers on timely water issues including water reuse and recycling, hydraulic fracturing and potential water impacts, and innovative practices in water management.
  • Small, focused workshops with leading government, non-profit, academic, and private sector water experts.  The aim of these workshops is to identify barriers and propose recommendations for better long-term water management, conservation and protection.   
  • Articles, legislative testimony, blog posts, and op-eds. 
  • Graduate student research opportunities for law and policy students.
  • Presentations, panels, and classes on water law and policy.

The Wheeler Institute collaborates with and draws upon the expertise of the academic, non-profit, government, and private sector to carry-out this important work.

Stewarding a Precious Resource

The establishment of the Wheeler Institute for Water Law & Policy at Berkeley Law's Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) comes at a time when a forum for catalyzing and expanding interdisciplinary water law and policy research fills at critical need. California is facing a rapidly growing population, increasing demands on freshwater resources, threats to water quality, and aging water infrastructure.

In addition, California’s freshwater resources will be increasingly tested by climate change impacts such as reduced snowpack, rising temperatures, and an increase in the frequency and severity of drought.  These challenges demand creative, collaborative solutions, and the Wheeler Institute is well placed to contribute to them.    

Existing Water Law and Policy Developments at Berkeley Law

The Wheeler Institute builds upon a foundation established at Berkeley Law over the past 40 years in water law, natural resources, and law and science.  

Berkeley Law faculty members are leading scholars and teachers in water law, natural resources, and climate change.  Berkeley Law Professors Holly Doremus, Daniel Farber, Michelle Wilde Anderson and Eric Biber regularly publish noteworthy articles on climate change, natural resources, law and science, and water law and policy.  Professor Emeritus Joseph Sax has long been a pioneer in the field of water law.

CLEE faculty and staff have also produced reports on the water-energy nexus, urban water conservation, water basin adjudication, and incorporating scientific uncertainty into law and policymaking. 

Recent Water Research at CLEE