Be Careful With Your Water Rights
Do you own property connected to a body of water, such as a river or pond? Are you aware that your rights to water change depending on the type of water? Before you use your water rights, you must ensure you know what they are so you do not get into legal trouble. Continue reading to learn what you can and cannot do with the water your property abuts.
If you own property connecting to a running water source such as a river or stream, you hold “riparian rights.” You have rights to the water that runs past your property, but it is limited. You are permitted to use the water, but not in any way that it disrupts the use of the water by other people downstream. For example, you may use the water for irrigation purposes on your property only if this does not inhibit another’s use.
On the other hand, if you own property that borders a still body of water, such as a pond, lake, or ocean, you hold “littoral rights.” When you own this property, you have rights to the shoreline, some water, and even some land beneath the water. If your property is next to water affected by tides, you have rights to everything up to the median high water mark. If you own property not affected by tides, such as a lake or pond, you have rights to everything up until the middle of the water. This right enables you to add home improvements such as docks.
These water rights apply to those who own property adjacent to a still body of water, such as a pond, lake, or ocean. When you own littoral property, you have rights to your shoreline and some of the water and land beneath the water. If a property is next to a body of water affected by tides, the owner will have rights to everything up to the median high-water mark. If a property is next to a lake or pond, the owner has rights to everything up to the middle of that water. These rights make it possible for owners to build improvements such as docks.
Despite this explanation, knowing what you can and cannot do with your waterfront property can be confusing. If you have questions or concerns regarding your littoral or riparian rights, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced real estate attorney. Bassett & Gabriel Law Office, P.C. can help you. To better understand your rights as a waterfront property owner, contact our office at 618-216-5217.