Water Law, regulations on water as the basis of all life and on issues of water management. The water law is drawn up and executed by federal authorities. A uniform Austrian water law was first enacted in 1869. The current Water Act dates from 1934; it underwent substantial amendments and was passed as the Water Act of 1959, substantially amended in 1990. The law distinguishes between public and private bodies of water. Every use of water, which exceeds general use where public bodies of water are concerned and personal use for home and economic purposes where private bodies of water are concerned or where other parties´ rights or bodies of water are concerned, requires the permission of the water law authority. Under no circumstances may municipalities and villages be deprived of water required for fire-fighting or other public purposes or for home and business use. Legal provisions on the protection of bodies of Water are becoming increasingly important for public health and the public economy. Authorisation procedures for flood protection and water regulation structures, torrent control measures, sub-drainage and building activities on banks and on flood plains are necessary for the control and management of bodies of water. Water co-operatives or water associations may be set up to protect real estate from water damage, to regulate or maintain bodies of water and to deal with issues of torrent and avalanche control, water supply, drainage and irrigation, disposal and purification of wastewater, exploitation of water power and management of bodies of water and water supply structures.
The water authority is part of the general national administration system, which in turn is governed directly by the Landeshauptmann (provincial governor) in the federal provinces. Its three instances are the district administrative authority, the provincial governor and the Ministry of Agriculture. Danube power stations, storage dams, border waters, nuclear reactors and the supply of Vienna with water are administered by the ministry. Municipalities (the local police force) are authorised to implement temporary security measures in cases of imminent danger. Water supply structures are administered by the water board of control organised by the provincial governor. Violations of the water law are not only punishable by law and subject to liability for damages but violators are also required by law to restore a condition consistent with the law and to remedy problems caused by the pollution of a body of water. Every administrative district has its own water cadastre, where all water exploitation rights, water co-operatives and water associations are registered. The water cadastre is administered by the provincial governor and is open to public inspection.
Literature: H. Rossmann, Wasserrecht, 1990.