AEM320 week11 - Week 11 Lecture 1 of 2 Lecture Date...

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Week 11 Lecture 1 of 2 Lecture Date: November 5, 2007 I. Water rights A. In the Eastern United States there are different rules that apply to different types of water. Many of these disputes are resolved before landowners decide to pay lawyers and go to court. Therefore, there is not a lot of case law. I. Riparian Rights (Eastern United States) 1. These rights apply to people whose property is adjacent to a body of water. It is a right to use the water that is adjacent; however, it is not an absolute right and may be subject to some restrictions. If a person owns all of the land that surrounds the water, he will control all of the water use. 2. If someone owns one side of the river, all riparian owners have the right to reasonable use, but these rights must all be balanced. Reasonable uses depend on circumstances but generally include such things as household use, (moderate) agricultural use etc. and cannot be interfered with by someone else’s right to access. 3. The right to clean water is now covered by statutes because of pollution laws and other environmental restrictions. The laws set levels of quality and also the extent to which polluters will be responsible. ii. Surface water rights 1. Property owners have an absolute right to use whatever surface water is on their property. 2. The issue that usually arises is drainage of excess surface water. The courts will look at the attempts to move the water off the property and whether it is reasonable in light of negative effects on other landowners. Often a balancing process. iii. Ground water rights 1. There is a right to water under property but it is hard to tell where the water is coming from. Most issues involve pollution so most statutes now govern disputes. B. Western United States I. Prior Use Doctrine 1. Since water is scarcer out west, ownership/ access to water becomes more of an issue. When the west was first settled, water rights were given on a first come first serve basis. Prior Use Doctrine has since been eliminated. ii. Water control programs 1. This creates issues that are not easily resolved. 2. Access to water is a right that can be apportioned or licensed. If more rights are required, then these rights are bought or borrowed from other landowners. 3. Example: The damming of the Colorado River provides all of the southern California with irrigation and water for the people of the city of Los Angeles. The issue arises when there is rationing implemented. Who gets preference, the farmers or the residents?
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II. Ownership of land under water - this concern the right to own the land under the water, not just the right to use the water. A. Navigable water I. The government owns the land up to the high water mark and will determine whether the water is a navigable body or not.
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