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 .
49. Rindge v. Sargent, 64 N. H. 294, 9 Atl. 723. See the able opinion of Walker J., in Franklin v. Durgee, 71 N. H. 186, 58 L. R. A. 112, 51 Atl. 911.
50. O'Connell v. East Tennessee R. Co., 87 Ga. 246, 13 L. R. A. 394, 27 Am. St. Rep. 246, 13 S. E. 489; New York etc. R. Co. v. Hamlet Hay Co., 149 Ind. 344, 47 N. E. 1060, 49 N. E. 269; Byrne v. Minneapolis & St. L. Ry. Co., 38 Minn. 212, 8 Am. St. Rep. 668, 36 N. W. 339; Chicago R. Co. v. Emmert, 53 Neb. 237, 68 Am. St. Rep. 602, 73 N. W. 540; Howard v. City of Buffalo, 211 N. Y. 241, 105 N. E. 426; Clark v. Patapsco Guano Co., 144 N. C. 64, 56 S. E. 858, 119 Am. St. Rep. 931; Crawford v. Rambo, 44 Ohio St. 279, 7 N. E. 429; Jefferson v. Hicks, 23 Okla. 684, 24 L. R. A.
N. S. 214, 102 Pac. 79; Barden v. Portage, 79 Wis. 126, 48 N. W. 210; Cairo V. & C. Rwy. Co. v. Brevoort, 62 F d. 129, 25 L. R. A 527. And see cases cited in next note.
51. O'Connell v. East Tennessee R. Co., 87 Ga. 246, 13 L. R. A. 394. 27 Am. St. Rep. 246, 13 S. E. 489; Riddle v. Chicago R. I. & P. R. Co., 88 Kan 248, 128 Pac. 195; Fordham v. Northern Pac R. Co., 30 Mont. 421, 104 Am. St. Rep. 729, 66 L. R. A. 556, 76 Pac. 1049; Brinegar v. Copass, 77 Neb. 241, 109 N. W. 173; Town of Jefferson v. Hicks, 23 Okla. 684, 24 L. R. A. (N. S.) 214, 102 Pac.
On the other hand, flood water which, becoming spread out over the adjoining land, is entirely severed from the main stream, and is not liable to return thereto, has been regarded as surface water, the flow of which may be obstructed by a lower owner to the same extent as other surface water.52 In one state any "overflow" water of a stream is said to be surface water.52a decisions are not entirely in harmony. It has been asserted in numerous cases that the owner of land has absolute control over such underground water, and may freely intercept it, regardless of whether this operates to deprive his neighbor of his accustomed supply,58 unless, at least, such action is dictated purely by malice,59 or it results in the diminution of the water in a natural water course running over or past such neighbor's land.60 The tendency, however, of the later cases in this country is not to recognize any such right of absolute control over water percolating through one's land, it being said that a landowner may intercept it to his neighbor's detriment only in so far as such interception
- (e) Appropriation. It has been usually held that the owner of land may appropriate or divert surface water upon his land, without reference to the resulting depletion of his neighbor's supply of water.53
79; Jones v. Seaboard Air Line R. Co., 67 S. Car. 181, 45 S. E. 188; Uhl v. Ohio River R. Co., 56 W. Va. 494, 107 Am. St. Rep. 968, 68 L. R. A. 138, 3 A. & E. Ann. Cas. 201, 49 S. E. 378.
So water forced out of the channel by an ice gorge was not regarded as surface water which an owner of land could repel by breaking the gorge, to the detriment of other landowners. Wine v. Northern Pacific Rwy. Co., 48 Mont. 200, 49 L. R. A. (N. S. 711, Ann. Cas. 1915D, 1102, 136 Pac. 387.
52. Missouri Pac. R. Co. v. Keys, 55 Kan. 205, 49 Am. St. Rep. 249, 40 Pac. 275; Harvey v. Northern Pac. R. Co., 63 Wash. 669, 116 Pac. 464.
52a. Goll v. Chicago & A. Ry. Co., 271 Mo. 655, 197 S. W. 245.
In Illinois at is said that water overflowing the banks in time of freshet, at least in case of a small stream, is surface water. Pinkstaff v. Steffy, 216 111. 406, 75 N. E. 163; Chicago, P. & St. L. Rwy. Co. v. Reuter, 223 111. 387, 79 N. E. 166.
In California, where the civil law rule prevails, it was held that overflow water from a river was not surface water which a lower non-riparian proprietor was bound to receive as it flowed over the land of his neighbor, but that water percolating through a levee on the river bank was surface water for the purpose of the rule. Gray v. McWilliams. 98 Cal. 157, 21 L. R. A. 593, 35 Am. St. Rep. 163, 32 Pac. 976.
53. Rawstron v. Taylor, 11 Exch. 369; Broadbsnt v. Rams-botham 11 Exch. 602; Green v. Carotta, 72 Cal. 267, 13 Pac. 685; Taylor v. Fickas, 64 Ind. 31 Am. Rep. 114; Gibbs v. Williams, 25 Kan. 214, 37 Am. Rep. 214; Parks v. City of Newburyport, 10 Gray. (Mass.) 28; Curtis v. Ayrault, 47 N. Y. 73; Frazier v. Brown, 12 Ohio St. 294; Wheatley v. Baugh, 25 Pa. St. 528; Case v. Hoffman, 100 Wis. 314, 44 L. R. A. 728, 72 N. W. 390, 74 N. W. 220, 75 N. W. 945.
By the civil law, the upper proprietor cannot appropriate the surface water, to the detriment
Keel, 25 Utah 96, 69 Pac. 719; Wheelock v. Jacobs, 70 Vt. 162, 67 Am. St. Rep. 659, 43 L. R. A. (N. S.) 105, 40 Atl. 41; Miller v. Black Rock Springs Imp. Co., 99 Va. 747, 86 Am. St. Rep. 924, 40 S. E. 27; Meyer v. Tacoma Light etc. Co., 8 Wash. 144, 35 Pac. 601; Huber v. Merkel, 117 Wis. 355, 62 L. R. A. 589, 94 N. W. 354, 98 Am. St. Rep. 933.
In one state, at least, however, the view has been adopted that he can appropriate such water only in the reasonable user of his own land.54 And it would seem that any restrictions which may be recognized in any particular state in regard to the appropriation of underground percolating water55 might well be applied in the analogous case of surface water.56
- (f) Pollution. An owner of land has no right to pollute surface water on his land and to allow it to flow in a polluted condition on the land of an adjoining owner. Such action on his part, in so far as it interferes with the possible enjoyment of the adjoining land, involves the maintenance of a nuisance57