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Flashcards in Water rights Deck (12):

Systems for allocating water

1. Riparian doctrine
2. Prior appropriation doctrine


Riparian doctrine

The water belongs to those who own the land along the watercourse.

* These landowners are called riparians.


Rights of riparians

Riparians share the right of reasonable use of the water.


Liability of riparians

A riparian will be liable if her use unreasonably interferes with others' use.


Prior appropriation doctrine

The water belongs initially to the state, but the right to divert it and use it can be acquired by an individual, regardless of whether he is a riparian owner.


Prior appropriation doctrine: how are rights determined?

Rights are determined by PRIORITY OF BENEFICIAL USE.

Any productive or beneficial use of the water, including use for agriculture, is sufficient to create the appropriation right.


Prior appropriation doctrine: allocation norm

First in time, first in right.

A person can acquire the right to divert and use water from a watercourse merely by being the first to do so.


What is groundwater?

Water beneath the surface of the earth that is not confined to a known channel.

* a.k.a. "percolating water."


Ground water use

A surface owner is entitled to make reasonable use of groundwater.

HOWEVER, the use must not be wasteful.


What are surface waters?

Water which comes from rain, springs, or melting snow, and which have not yet reached a natural watercourse or basin.


Common enemy rule

Surface water is a nemesis and it's good to eradicate it.


Surface water use

A landowner may change drainage or make any other changes/improvements on his land to combat the flow of surface water.

* Many courts have modified the common enemy rule to prohibit unnecessary harm to others' land.