Online Encyclopedia

WATER RIGHTS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 385 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WATER RIGHTS. By the law of England the property in the bed and water of a tidal river, as high as the tide ebbs and flows at a medium spring tide, is presumed to be in the crown or as a franchise in a grantee of the crown, such as the lord of a manor, or a district council, and to be extra-parochial. The bed and water of a non-tidal river are presumed to belong to the person through whose land it flows, or, if it divide two properties. to the riparian proprietors, the rights of each extending to midstream (ad medium Scrum aquae). In order to give riparian rights, the river must flow in a defined channel, or at least above ground. The diminution of underground water collected by percolation, even though malicious, does not give a cause of action to the owner of the land in which it collects, it being merely damnum sine injuria, though he is entitled to have it unpolluted unless a right of pollution be gained against him by prescription. The right to draw water from another's well is an easement, not a profit a prendre, and is therefore claimable by custom. As a general rule a riparian proprietor, whether on a tidal or a non-tidal river, has full rights of user of his property. Most of the statute law will be found in the Sea Fisheries Acts 1843 to 1891, and the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Acts 1861 to 1886. In certain cases the rights of the riparian proprietors are subject to the intervening rights of other persons. These rights vary according as the river is navigable or not, or tidal or not. For instance, all the riparian proprietors might combine to divert a non-navigable river, though one alone could not do so as against the others, but no combination of riparian proprietors could defeat the right of the public to have a navigable river maintained undiverted. We shall here consider shortly the rights enjoyed by, and the limitations
End of Article: WATER RIGHTS
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