What is water?

We have revolutionized our concept of what western water is. It is no longer simply a commodity to be removed from a watercourse for use on farmland or in a factory. There is life and beauty in water. It is a valid use of water simply to allow it to remain in a stream or lake. In a sense, after first rejecting the riparian rule so resoundingly, we have reconsidered and have reached a deeply held consensus that there is undeniable merit in some aspects of riparianism: sufficient water absolutely must be available to meet a broad range of public environmental, recreational, ecological, and aesthetic needs.

– Charles Wilkinson, Western Water Law in Transition, 1985