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Student Project: Riparian Rights: New York

This is a research guide which further explains riparian rights and provides examples for each kind of water right in three different states.

New York

New York water law is governed by a system of riparian rights. Riparian rights are created from the ownership of land bordering a watercourse. Riparian owners are subject to the reasonable use doctrine. New York follows the “source of title” rule. Purchases of land parcels adjacent to the riparian land do not enlarge the effective riparian tract, and sale of a portion of the riparian parcel not directly touching the water removes its riparian character. New York Water Access and Water Rights Overview 

New York Rivers

Obtaining a New Work Water Right

  • Riparian rights in New York can only arise from the ownership of the land abutting or surrounding a watercourse or other confined body of water, such as a lake or a pond. There must be contact between the watercourse and the land. Use of the water does not create riparian rights, and non-use of the water cannot destroy them. See Townsend v. McDonald, 12 N.Y. 381 (1855)
  • Under New York's "source of title" rule, "riparian rights attach only to a parcel which is contiguous to a watercourse, and is held under a single chain of title leading to the present owner." **14 Warren's Weed New York Real Property § 151.06.

Water Boundaries-- What are Your Rights and Liabilities?

**Lexis subscription required.