This section is from the book "The Law Of Real Property and Other Interests In Land", by Herbert Thorn Dike Tiffany. Also available from Amazon: A Treatise on the Modern Law of Real Property and Other Interests in Land .
- (a) General considerationn. Water spread upon the surface of land, or contained in depressions therein, if not flowing in a fixed channel, or not having permanent sources of supply, so as to constitute a watercourse, and not constituting a permanent lake or pond, is known as "surface water."
While ordinarily the determination of the question whether particular water is surface water presents no difficulties, the contrary is sometimes the case.13 Whether, for instance, a pond which forms in wet weather, but becomes dry whenever a prolonged drought occurs, is to be regarded as surface water or as a pond of a permanent character, presents a question of difficulty,14 water, though otherwise it would have served to form a watercourse. Mason v. Yearwood, 58 Wash. 276, 30 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1158, 108 Pac. 608.
12a. Ante, Sec. 339(h).
12b. Adams v. Manning, 48 Conn. 477; Marshall Ice Co. v. La Plant, 136 Iowa, 621, 12 L. R. A. N. S. 1073, 11 N. W. 1016; Thomas v. Fin & Feather Club, 106 Tex. 490, 171 S. W. 698; Pewaukee v. Savoy, 103 Wis. 271, 50 L. R. A. 836, 74 Am. St. Rep. 859, 79 N. W. 436.
13. For various decisions upon what constitutes surface water, see note in 25 L. R. A. 527. and article in 23 Amer. Law Rev. at p. 372.
14. That a pond or lake of a permanent character is not surface water, see Schaefer v. Mar-thaler, 34 Minn. 487, 57 Am. Rep. 73, 26 N. W. 726; Krupke v. Stock-ard, 103 Minn. 349, 115 N. W. 175; Alcorn v. Sadler, 66 Miss. 221, 5 So. 694; Hyatt v. Albro, 121 Mich. 638, 80 N. W. 641; Davis v. Fry, 14 Okla. 340, 69 L. R. A.
Water flowing for the most part in a fixed channel, and coming from a permanent source of supply, does not become surface water at some particular place because it there spreads out over a wide space without any apparent banks, it subsequently again passing into a regular channel,15 and the same is to be said of the flood water of a stream, escaping beyond the regular banks, provided at least it is not permanently separated from the stream.15a
460, 2 A. & E. Ann. Cas. 193, 78 Pac. 180; Anderson v. Drake, 24 S. Dak. 216, 27 L. R. A. (N. S.) 250, 123 N. W. 673 (well fed by spring); Neal v. Ohio River R. Co., 47 W. Va. 316, 34 S. E. 914.
That a pond not of a permanent character is surface water, see Brandenberg v. Zeigler, 62 S. C. 18, 55 L. R. A. 414, 89 Am. St. Rep. 887, 39 S. E. 790; Crab-tree v. Baker, 75 Ala. 91, 51 Am. Rep. 424; Jacobson v. Van Boehn-ing, 48 Neb. 80, 58 Am. St. Rep. 684, 32 L. R. A. 229, 66 N. W. 993; Noyes v. Cosselman, 29 Wash. 635, 92 Am. St. Rep. 937, 70 Pac. 61; Shaw v. Ward, 131 Wis. 646, 111 N. W. 671; Thompson v. Andrews, 39 S. D. 477, 165 N. W. 9.
In Applegate v. Franklin, 109
Mo. App. 293, 84 S. W. 347, a permanent lake of considerable ertent was regarded as surface water, erroneously, it would rather seem. See 5 Columbia Law Rev. at p. 329.
15. Gillett v. Johnson, 30 Conn. 180; Hinkle v. Avery, 88 Iowa, 47, 45 Am. St. Rep. 224, 55 N. W. 77; Mitchell v. Bain, 142 Ind. 604, 42 N. E. 230; Macomb2r v. Godfrey, 108 Mass. 219; Harrington v. De Maris, 46 Ore. 111, 1 L. R. A. N. S. 756, 77 Pac. 603; Hastie v. Jenkins, 53 Wash. 21, 101 Pac. 495; Case v. Hoffman, 84 Wis. 438, 20 L. R. A. 40, 54 N. W. 793; Blohowak v. Grochoski, 119 Wis. 189, 96 N. W. 551.
15a. post, Sec. 341d, notes 50-52a.
- (b) Discharge into natural watercourse. As stated above, the owner of riparian land has a right, of which he cannot be deprived, to the use of the watercourse for the purpose of draining off this surface water from his land,16 and this right is not confined to the water which 'may drain off from his land in its natural state, but he may change and control the surface water, accelerating and increasing its flow into the stream, and, so long as he does this in the reasonable use of his own land, the lower proprietor cannot complain, provided it does not result in the discharge into the stream of surface water beyond the natural capacity of the channel,17 and according to some decisions, the upper proprietor may so increase the flow even though it does exceed the capacity of the channel, and consequently causes an overflow upon land further down the stream.18
- (c) Discharge on lower land. The owner of land from which surface water naturally escapes on lower land belonging to another has the right to construct ditches and drains on his own land in order to expedite such escape19 and in a number of states he is regarded as having the right thus to construct drains on his own injure his neighbor.25 And in one state such a right appears to be recognized subject to the qualification that it cannot be exercised to the substantial injury of another.26 The right which the upper owner may thus have to cause additional water to flow upon the lower land is necessarily subject to any right which the lower owner may have, by reason of the adoption in that jurisdiction of the "common law" rule in reference to surface waters, to obstruct or prevent the discharge of such water on his land.27
16. Ante, Sec. 339(e), note 78.
17. McCormick v. Horan, 81 N. Y. 86, 37 Am. Rep. 479; Waffle v. New York Cent. R. Co., 53 N. Y. 11; Noonan v. City of Albany, 79 N. Y. 470; Jackman v. Arlington Mills, 137 Mass. 277; Gould, Waters, Sec. 274.
18. Kankakee & S. R. Co. v. Horan, 131 111. 288, 23 N. E. 621; Mizell v. McGowan, 120 N. C. 134, 26 S. E. 783, 129 N. C. 93, 85 Am. St. Rep. 705, 39 S. E. 729; Mason v. Commrs. of Fulton County, 80 Ohio St. 151, 24 L. R. A. (N. S.) 903, 131 Am. St. Rep. 689;
88 N. E. 401,; Miller v. Laubach, 47 Pa. St. 154, 86 Am. Dec. 521.
19. Hughes v. Anderson, 68 Ala. 280, 44 Am. Rep. 147; Gues-nard v. Bird, 33 La. Ann. 796; Praught v. Bukosky, 116 Minn. 206, 133 N. W. 564; Peck v. Good-berlett, 109 N. Y. 180, 16 N. E. 350; Kauffman v. Griesemer, 26 Pa. St. 407, 67 Am. Dec. 407; Trigg v. Timmerman, 90 Wash. 678, L. R. A. 1916F, 424, 156 Pac. 846; Manteuffel v. Wetzel, 133 Wis. 619, 19 L. R. A. (N. S.) 619, 114 N. W. 91.