Roman law and waters: How local hydrography framed regulation

Alberto Quintavalla
Erasmus University Rotterdam; quintavalla@law.eur.nl

ABSTRACT: Is there a relationship between the conceptualisation of water and its regulation? There is no simple or obvious answer to this question. This paper contends that the Roman regulatory framework mirrored the fragmented conceptualisation of water that was dominant in pre-modern times. The paper aims to show that water regulation is sensitive to the particular conceptualisation of water that a society adopts, which in turn reflects the specific historical period in which it is embedded. It also aims to show that there may be a way to deal with local hydrography differently from the paradigm currently promoted by the integrated water resource management framework. These considerations are not moot in today’s discussions on water resource management.

KEYWORDS: Water law, Roman law, water conceptualisation, ownership categories, water history