The Water and Justice Program promotes the wise and sustainable use of water resources locally, nationally, and globally through research, education and policy development. The program complements the law school's outstanding faculty and diverse course offerings in the field of water law and policy. The program is administered by VLS's Environmental Law Center under the direction of Professors
Jack Tuholske and
John Echeverria. Program staff includes a research fellow and student research associates who contribute to reports, conference presentations, legal analyses, and law review articles to support the program's work. Faculty, staff and students meet regularly to discuss their research and learn about cutting-edge litigation and policy initiatives in the world of water law.
Based on a grant from the HKH Foundation, work will include a detailed examination of water governance for the Great Lakes region, including the public trust doctrine, water commons principles, statutory regimes that regulate water, international and Native American treaty rights that affect the Great Lakes, evolution of the common law, and other legal constraints on the use and governance of water. Additional work will focus on other areas of the public trust, Western water law, and government recognition and reservation of public rights in water.
The Water and Justice Program has appointed Chelsea Auerbach MELP '11, as a full time research fellow. She previously worked on water law and policy issues in Australia under a Fulbright Fellowship and with American Rivers, the nation's leading river conservation group. The Research Associates for 2016-2017 are Hannah Brubach, Sarah Costlow, Patrick Kenney, Nadine Nadow, Harsharon Sekhon, Jack Spicer, and Amber Widmayer.
To access our Public Trust Doctrine Resource Center, with its detailed compilation of public trust law review articles, cases, and other information, please click
To learn more about the 2016-2017 Water and Justice academic program, please click here. Professor Jack Tuholske explains the program in further detail through this audio clip.
Sarah Costlow, originally from Johnstown, Pennsylvania known for its massive flood in 1889, is a Masters of Environmental Law and Policy student at VLS, also pursuing a Water Law Certificate. She lived the past five years in France working at a non-profit focused on biodiversity and then on communicating sustainable water use in Russia, China, India and the U.S. at a global advertising agency. She returned to the U.S. to study environmental law because she felt that without that base knowledge, she couldn’t fully realize solutions to environmental issues. She studied English Literature at Lafayette College in undergrad, and has a master’s degree in global communication from the American University of Paris where she focused on digital advocacy -her intention was always to use her skills to better the environment. Sarah is moving to Rochester, New York in May and is interested in working on water issues within New York and the Great Lakes region.
Hannah Brubach came to Vermont Law School from Maryland with an interest in protecting our water resources from pollution. Hannah is a 3L completing the JD and MELP, as well as the Water Resources Law certificate. Her background is in aquatic sciences and environmental science. She graduated from Elizabethtown College in Lancaster, PA before coming straight to law school. She has interned with the Lancaster County Conservation District and the Association of Clean Water Administrators, and clerked with the U.S. EPA in the Air Enforcement Division. Hannah’s goal after law school is to enforce regulations in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and fight for stricter regulations for the Bay and surrounding communities.
Nadine anticipates graduating Vermont Law School with a Water Law Certificate and a Land Use Law Certificate. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Global Studies from the University of Vermont. Nadine attended Vermont Law School to study environmental law and learn how to be an effective advocate for protecting water resources and public lands. She is currently an intern for the Montana Environmental Information Center lobbying in the Montana legislature. She enjoys spending time with her dog running trails, skiing, and playing ultimate frisbee.
Jack came to Vermont from the banks of the Big Darby Creek in central Ohio. While working at a canoe livery on the Big Darby, he was inspired to gain the tools that he witnessed private organizations and public agencies use to protect one of the most biologically diverse aquatic systems in the Midwest. Jack is a second year JD/Master of Environmental Law and Policy student, Staff Editor for the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, and is pursuing a Water Law Certificate. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at Ohio University with a minor in Geography and a certificate in Law, Justice & Culture. He’s interested in working on water issues anywhere that will let him get his feet wet.