Kiritsis & Associates

 

What are riparian rights?

Jul 16, 2021

Kiritsis Law Group 212 922 0005

By: John Kiritsis, Esq., CPA, MBA, MS, JD, LL.M


Generally, riparian rights refer to land ownership rights to lands adjacent to bodies of water.    Historically, most U.S. jurisdictions determined riparian rights under either the riparian law (followed mostly in the east coast) or the prior appropriation doctrine (followed mostly in the West coast). Although this is mostly true nowadays, federal laws have become more prevalent in this area, in large part due to increased interstate  commerce having modified and somewhat mingled those two approaches. A generalized summary of riparian law is that it views water as a public goods that belongs to everyone and cannot be owned by neither the government nor a private individual. In contrast, the prior appropriation doctrine could be quickly characterized as one where the first person use water for a specific purpose, and hence has the rights over that water, as long as he uses it for the same person. Many legal theorists believe that riparian rights and the legal enforcement mechanisms revolving around them, could play an increasingly bigger role if the existence of global warming and its potential consequences are to be believed. 

 

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