Adler Contributes to Sustainability Agenda

While nearly all Americans have relatively safe drinking water and modern sanitation, billions of people across the world lack access do not, with water borne diseases leading to the deaths millions of people each year. The situation is unsustainable, and global warming is likely to exacerbate the problem.

Professor Robert W. Adler, an expert on water law at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, joined 40 other renown experts from various fields to contribute a chapter in the recently-published Agenda for a Sustainable America, a covering a broad swath of sustainability issues.

Agenda for a Sustainable America, from the Environmental Law Institute, is a comprehensive assessment of current state of development in the United States and a roadmap of necessary next steps toward achieving a sustainable America.

Adler’s chapter addresses legal issues stemming from the balancing of the needs of water users and the sustainability of that use on the ecosystem. His contribution, entitled “Freshwater: Sustaining Use by Protecting Ecosystems,” assesses water law and policy in the United States since 2002 and presents policy recommendations to deal with threats to the nation’s water supply. Adler’s chapter addresses freshwater resources and ecosystems that depend on freshwater flows, such as rivers, streams, lakes, and inland wetlands. Freshwater also includes water stored in underground aquifers.

In addition to water resources, Agenda for a Sustainable America, assesses trends in 28 separate areas of American life including forestry; transportation; oceans and estuaries; religion; and state, local, and national governance. (Another contributor wrote a chapter about saltwater resources and ecosystems in the ocean, estuaries, and coastal waters.)

Adler is the College of Law’s Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs and the James I. Farr Chair in Law. He is a prolific scholar on water law. In 2007, he published two books Environmental Law: A Conceptual and Pragmatic Approach (Aspen Publishers) and Restoring Colorado River Ecosystems: A Troubled Sense of Immensity (Island Press). He regularly teaches courses in civil procedure, water law, and environmental law. He is currently developing an interdisciplinary course on “Environmental Law and Engineering,” in which law students and environmental engineering graduate students will work together on environmental projects in Utah.

Adler practiced environmental law for 15 years, after completing a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and a J.D. with honors from Georgetown University Law Center. Adler enjoys the outdoors and runs marathons, including the Wasatch Front 100-mile trail race in Utah’s mountains.

U.S. Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin wrote that the book’s “comprehensive review of the United States’ environmental efforts is a reminder that despite our progress, we have further to travel on the road toward sustainability. As this book makes clear, we must pursue new, sustainable solutions that will allow future generations, and the environment they will depend on, to thrive.”

More information about Agenda for a Sustainable America is available at