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Abstract

Thousands die each day from infections related to water, as evidenced in the ongoing crises of cholera in Haiti, Zika in the Western Hemisphere, and Legionnaires’ Disease in Flint, Michigan. Yet water law focuses primarily on two agendas. First, the “Blue Agenda” aims to provide an equitable allocation of water to individuals and communities while encouraging sustainable water management. Second, the “Green Agenda” aims to efficiently protect water in the natural environment from pollution. These two agendas often ignore, and can be inconsistent with, the “Red Agenda.” The Red Agenda addresses prevention of waterborne infections, like cholera, and the habitat of water-related disease vectors, like mosquitoes transmitting malaria. Additionally, the Red Agenda focuses on access to water for sanitation and hygiene, with implications for epidemics like Ebola. In simplified terms, the Blue Agenda is about water quantity, the Green Agenda about water quality, and the Red Agenda about water diseases. Laws made in pursuit of the Blue Agenda, like building a dam or irrigation system, can interfere with the Red Agenda by bringing mosquito habitat closer to human communities. And laws made in the pursuit of the Green Agenda, like prohibiting discharges of pesticides into a river, can interfere with the Red Agenda by preventing a response to a malaria outbreak. This Article is the first to introduce the Blue, Green, and Red framework for water law, and explains why these agendas often conflict with each other and how to more effectively integrate these agendas into water law.

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