Bennett Bearden

Adjunct Professor

  • email:
  • phone (205) 247-3683
  • office location Walter Bryan Jones Hall 118


  • JSD, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, 2011
  • LLM, University of London, Graduate Law Programme, 2006
  • Post-Graduate Certificate in Watershed Management, University of British Columbia, 2004
  • JD, Birmingham School of Law, 1992
  • MS, University of Alabama, 1984
  • BS in Geology, University of Alabama, 1981
  • BS, Geography, University of Alabama, 1980

Research Areas

  • Water policy and law
  • State water resources planning
  • Environmental law
  • Water policy analysis
  • Public policy analysis
  • Interfaces among science, policy, and law
  • Water diplomacy
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Mediation
  • Interstate and intrastate water disputes
  • Transbody water conflict
  • Watershed management
  • Food-energy-water nexus
  • governmental relations and strategies
  • International water law and policy
  • International environmental law
  • Litigation


Under the umbrella of the Alabama Water Institute (AWI), Bennett, an AWI Affiliate, provides local, national, and international guidance in the development of public policy and functional legal regimes for water resources through education, research, and policy analysis while balancing the needs of economic development and ecosystems management. The AWI targets the capabilities and resources at The University of Alabama, an institution uniquely qualified in the state to utilize the tripartite approach of science, policy, and law, to provide applied research and policy development that addresses all aspects of water resources. Bennett provides forward-thinking institutions, organizations, and governments with constructive resolution of emerging challenges at the intersection of water law and policy emphasizing data-driven policymaking, strategic counseling, water diplomacy, water conflict mediation, creative dispute resolution, and enhanced relations with stakeholders and community groups. Bennett assists stakeholders in creating strategic partnerships that bring together diverse groups that resolve challenging public policy issues through close work with industry, local, state and federal government agencies, public utilities, business, environmental, and community groups.

Selected Publications

•Weber, G.S., Harder, J.L., and Bearden, B.L., 2020, Cases and Materials on Water Law, 10th ed., West Publishing, 749 p. (Casebook on Water Law and Policy).

•Bearden, B.L., 2020, Significant Cases and Opinions in Alabama Water Law: Surface Water and Groundwater, The Wave (Official Publication of the Alabama Water Environment Association (AWEA)), vol.41 no. 1, Summer 2020, 8 p.

•Bearden, B.L., with Engstrom, J., Guthrie, G, and Tootle, G., 2019, Declining water resources in Alabama and Mississippi, as identified by GRACE satellites, AGU Fall Meeting, December 9-13, 2019, San Francisco.

•Bearden, B., with Hills, D., 2019, YOU Should Advocate for Water Resources Research, The Wave, v. 40, no. 3 (Fall 2019), p. 13-16.

•Bearden, B. with Guthrie, G., 2019, The Alabama Groundwater Assessment Program: Informing State Water Law and Policy, The Wave, v. 40, no. 2 (Summer 2019), p. 33-38.

•Bearden, B. with S. Sadeghi, G. Tootle, E. Elliott, V. Lakshmic, M. Therrell and J. Kam, 2019, Atlantic Ocean Sea Surface Temperatures and Southeast United States streamflow variability: Associations with the recent multi-decadal decline, Journal of Hydrology, 576, p. 422-429.

•Bearden, B.L., 2019, Bridging Law and Policy: Update on the State Water Management Plan, Water Resources Law Symposium, February 22, 2019, The University of Alabama School of Law and CLE Alabama, 114 p.

•Bearden, B. with Praskievicz, S., Luo, C., and Ernest, A., 2018, Evaluation of low-flow metrics as environmental instream flow standards during long-term average and 2016 drought conditions: Tombigbee River Basin, Alabama and Mississippi, USA, Water Policy (Official Journal of the World Water Council), v. 20, no. 6, p. 1240-1255.

•Bearden, B.L., 2018, Following the Proper Channels: Tributaries in the Mekong Legal Regime, Bill/Nijhoff Press, International Water Law Series Volume 6, Leiden (The Netherlands)-Boston (USA), 266 p. (International Water Law and Policy book).

•Bearden, B., Srivastava, P., McNider, R. and Ernest, A, 2016, The Next Frontier in Alabama Water Policy: The Food-Energy-Water Nexus, The Wave, v. 37, no. 2 (Summer 2016) p. 17-22.

•Bearden, B. L., Ernest, A., Clark, E. and Zhu, L., 2016, Data-Driven Policy Making, The Wave, v. 37, no. 1 (Spring 2016) p. 21-28.

•Bearden, B., Rieu-Clarke, A., and Pech, S., 2013, “Mekong River Basin” in The UN Watercourses Convention in Force—Strengthening International Law for Transboundary Water Management, Flavia Rocha, Laures and Alistair Rieu-Clarke, eds, London and New York: Earthscan from Routledge Publishers (Co-author of Chapter in one of the leading books on the 1997 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (UN Watercourses Convention)).

•Bearden, B.L., 2010, The legal regime of the Mekong River: a look back and some proposals for the way ahead: Water Policy, v. 12, no.6, p. 798-821.