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As the owner of a property, you have certain rights pertaining to the use and sourcing of natural water (called water rights). One of these rights concerns the use of a river, lake or stream if it borders more than one person's property. Depending upon the part of the country, in some cases all property owners whose property borders a lake, stream or river, equally share the rights to use that water. No property owner can use the water in a way that would interfere with any other bordering property owner. However in other parts of the country, the state initially owns the full rights to the lake, stream or river and can appropriate or sell any portion of the rights to any property owner as it sees fit.
Another type of water right concerns the use of groundwater, such as from a well. Most states allow property owners "reasonable use" of any ground water that is beneath that owner's property. The third most common water right is in regards to surface water, such as from rain or snow that collects on the property surface. This is a more simple right, as it states that the right to use the standing water belongs solely to the property owner whose land the water sits on. This water right can get complicated if a property owners tries to remove the water by diverting it onto the property of another.
In California, water rights tend to be more complicated than some other states and laws regarding these rights must be taken seriously. Because California does not get as much rain as other parts of the country, water supply is limited and thus property owners must put ground or watercourse water to beneficial use. Water from these sources must be put to the utmost beneficial use, according to law. However, rights to use water from these sources can also be appropriated by the state, further complicating matters.
Water rights in California have lead to many conflicts and litigations in the past, and continue to pose problems for property owners. If the laws pertaining to these rights are broken, penalties, fines, loss of rights and other punishments may arise.
Because the laws pertaining to water rights are so complicated and differ in various situations, it is important to seek the council of an attorney with experience in water rights. A real property attorney can defend your rights to the use of natural resource water found on, under, or next to your property.
It can be difficult to navigate water rights if you are looking to purchase rights from the state or if you are involved in a dispute of rights. Contact Attorney Search Network for a lawyer referral to a lawyer with water rights experience.
If you have any questions about the information provided above, please contact us. Call us toll free at (800) 215-1190 or fill out our online form for your Real Property lawyer referral.