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 .
42. Hall v. Rising, 141 Ala. 431, 37 So. 586; Shanan v. Brown, 179 Ala. 425, 43 L. R. A. N. S. 792, 60 So. 891; Levy v. Nash, 87 Ark. 41, 20 L. R. A. N. S. 155, 112 S. W. 112; Lampe v. San Francisco, 124 Cal. 546, 57 Pac. 461; City of Cedar Falls v. Hansen, 104 Iowa, I89, 65 Am. St. Rep. 439, 73 N. W 585; Boyd v. Conk-lin, 54 Mich. 583, 52 Am. Rep. 831, 20 N. W. 595 (dictum) Contra, Garland v. Aurin, 103 Tenn. 555, 76 Am. St. Rep. 699. 48 L. R. A. 862, 53 S. W. 940; Johnson v. Marcum, 152 Ky. 629, 153 S. W. 959. See Gormley v. Sanford, 52 111. 159.
In so far as a right in the lower proprietor to pre vent the flow on his land of surface water from higher land may he recognized, it becomes important to deter-mine whether flood water of a stream, that is, the excess over the ordinary quantity of water therein, resulting from an unusual rainfall or other like cause, is to be regarded as a part of the stream, the flow of which a land owner cannot obstruct, or surface water, the flow of which he can obstruct. Flood water, thus understood, has been regarded as part of the stream for this purpose, so long as it is in fact part of the same body of water. That is, all the water flowing in a well denned channel is a part of the water course, although it is confined, not by the ordinary banks of the stream, hut by what may be described as the highwater banks, which are at a greater distance one from the other than the ordinary banks50 And the tendency is also to regard as part of the water of the stream such flood water as may have become temporarily separated from the stream but which will return in time to the ordinary channel.51
In some of the states in which the common-law rule, so called, has been in a general way approved, it has been subjected to qualification. For instance, it is occasionally said that the lower proprietor, obstructing the flow of surface water, is liable for resulting injury to another if he could have avoided such injury by the exercise of reasonable care and a not unreasonable expenditure.44 In a few states, while the right to obstruct the flow of surface water in the ordinary case is recognized, one cannot apparently obstruct such flow in a natural channel or drain way,45 and in one of these
43. Rielly v. Stephenson, 222 Pa. 252, 128 Am. St. Rep. 804, 22 L. R. A. (N. S.) 947, 70 Atl. 1097;
44. Little Rock, etc., R. Co. v. Chapman, 39 Ark. 463, 43 Am. Rep. 280; Baker v. Allen, 66 Ark. 271, 74 Am. St. Rep. 93, 50 S. W. 511; Missouri Pac. Rwy. Co. v. Renfro, 52 Kan. 237, 39 Am. St. Rep. 344, 34 Pac. 802; Sinai v. Louisville, N. O. & T. Ry. Co., 71 Miss. 547, 14 So. 87; Abbott v. Kansas City, St. J. & C. B. R. Co., 83 Mo. 271, 53 Am. Rep. 58; Cox v. Hannibal & St. J. Ry. Co., 174 Mo. 588, 74 S. W. 854; Jacobson v. Van Boening, 48 Neb. 80, 66 N. W. 993, 58 Am. St. Rep. 684, 32 L. R. A. 229; Chicago, R. I. & P. R. Co. v. Groves, 20 Okla. 101, 22 L. R. A. (N. S.) 802, 93 Pac. 755; McGehee v. Tidewater R. Co., 108 Va. 508, 62 S. E. 356; Neal v. Ohio River R. Co., 47 W. Va. 316, 34 S. E. 914 (semble) See Madisonville, H. & E. R. Co. v. Thomas, 148 Ky. 131, 146 S. W. 33; Holman v. Richardson, 115
Miss. 169 L. R. A. 1917F, 942, 72 So. 136.
45. Kroeger v. Twin Buttes R. Co., 13 Ariz. 348, Ann. Cas. 1913E 1229, 114 Pac. 553; Wharton v. Stevens, 84 Iowa, 107, 15 L. R.
A. 630, 35 Am. St. Rep. 290, 50 N. W. 562; Palmer v. Waddell, 22 Kan. 352 (But see Kansas City & E. R. Co. v. Riley, 33 Kan. 374, 6 Pac. 581.); McCIure v. Redwing, 28 Minn. 186, 9 N. W. 767; Jungblum v. Minneapolis, N. U. & S. W. Rwy. Co., 70 Minn. 153, 72 N. W. 971; Fossum v. Chicago, M. & St. P. R. Co., 80 Minn. 9, 82 N. W. 979; Town v. Missouri Pacific R. Co., 50 Neb. 768, 70 N. W. 402; Iske v. Missouri Pac. R. Co., 94 Neb. 9, 142 N. W. 671; Murphy v. Chicago,
B. & Q. R. Co., 101 Neb. 73, 161 N. W. 1048; Schnitzius v. Bailey, 48 N. J. Eq. 309, 22 Atl. 732; Soules v. Northern Pac. Ry. Co., 34 N. D. 7, L. R. A. 1917A 501, 157 N. W. 823; Chicago, R. I. & P. R. Co. v. Groves, 20 Okla. 101.
Occasionally it has been laid down that the owner of the lower land may prevent the flow of surface water thereon in the ordinary,47 or the reasonable,48 use of his own land. It has been said in this connection by the New Hampshire Supreme Court, that "a use is reasonable which does not unreasonably prejudice the rights of others," and that "in determining the question of reasonableness, the effect of the use upon the interests of both parties, the benefits derived from it by one, the injury caused by it to the other, and all the circumstances affecting either of them, are to be considered."49 Such a criterion of reasonable user, as thus defined, is perhaps more conducive to exact justice, in the long run, than is the inflexible application of either the common law or civil law rule. It permits consideration of the special circumstances which may exist by reason of the location of the land in the city or in the country,
22 L. R. A. N. S. 802, 93 Pac. 755; Batla v. Goodell, 53 Tex. Civ. 178, 115 S. W. 622.
There are a number of statements in the Illinois cases that the flow of surface water in such a drainway, there termed a "watercourse," cannot be interfered with. Lambert v. Alcorn, 144 111. 313, 21 L. R. A. 611, 33 N. E. 53; St. Louis Merchants' Bridge Terminal Rwy Ass'n v. Schultz, 226 111. 409, 80 N. E. 879; Bois D'Arc v. Convery, 255 111. 511, 99 N. E. 666. But in view of the recognition of the civil law rule in other cases in that state, it appears to be immaterial whether the surface water is in a natural drainway.
46. Hayes v. Oyer, 164 Iowa, 697, 146 N. W. 857.
47. O'Neill v. St. Paul, 104 Minn. 491, 116 N. W. 114; Bark-ley v. Wilcox, 86 N. Y. 140, 40 Am. Rep. 519.
48. Swett v. Cutts. 50 N. H. 439, 9 Am. Rep. 276; Franklin v. Durgee, 71 N. H. 186, 58 L. R. A. 112, 51 Atl. 911; McGehee v. Tidewater R. Co., 108 Va. 508, 62 S. E. 356; Plesner v. Stein-bruck, 89 Neb. 129, 34 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1055, 130 N. W. 1040.