The Difference Between Riparian and Littoral Rights

Have you recently purchased land that borders a body of water, such as a river or lake? Did you know that you have different rights to certain types of water? Let’s go over those rights.

Riparian Rights

Riparian rights are given to those who own property that borders flowing water, such as a river or stream. This land is referred to as riparian land. Owners of this property have strict rights to the water they touch. Landowners are allowed to reasonably use the water they border but cannot inhibit the water flow.

Littoral Rights

Littoral rights refer to the use of land that borders a still body of water, such as a pond, lake, or ocean. The land that borders the water is referred to as littoral land. Examples of littoral land are beachfront or lakefront property. Landowners who border water affected by high and low tides own everything up to the median watermark. On the other hand, property owners who border water not affected by tides own everything up to the middle of the body of water. This allows owners to add home improvements such as docks or buoys.

If you are new to owning a waterfront property, you must understand your littoral or riparian rights. You do not want to build your dream dock to result in a lawsuit. Contact our attorneys at Cross Jenks Mercer & Maffei LLP regarding your riparian or littoral rights questions. We can help you understand your options.