Who Owns the River


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A key point is whether or not the waterway is considered navigable. If it is considered navigable, floating or motoring through is permitted. If not, the landowner may refuse access. Unfortunately, the great majority of Georgia's rivers and streams are not considered navigable under Georgia law. A waterway is considered navigable if it is "capable of transporting boats loaded with freight in the regular course of trade either for a whole or a part of the year.

The mere transporting of timber or the transporting of wood in small boats shall not make a stream navigable" OCGA , Sections of streams that are affected by ocean tides are considered navigable.

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Basically, a section of river is considered navigable and therefore floatable only if it is capable of regularly handling barge traffic. So does this mean that only coastal anglers or those living near the Altamaha, Savannah, Coosa, and lower Chattahoochee can legally go fishing? What about the vast majority of us who want to fish nonnavigable streams? According to Georgia law, "The beds of nonnavigable streams belong to the owner of the adjacent land" OCGA , This law also states that the owner's property rights extend to the midpoint of the stream.

Now I realize that this sounds pretty bleak, but a careful reading of the statute will show that the landowner owns the stream bed, not the water flowing over it. Another reality that helps out fishermen is the fact that it is somewhat rare for both sides of a stream to be owned by the same person. In cases where the landowner owns property on both sides of the stream, courts have upheld the rights of property owners to restrict boat traffic and the taking of fish from their section of the stream, even in cases where fish in the stream were stocked at public expense.

Okay, so there's what the law says, and while Georgia law currently sides with landowners, the reality of the situation is that it is generally not worth worrying about. There have only been a couple instances of landowners denying boat passage in the history of the state, and only a few more of landowners running off fishermen in boats.

Who owns the river?

In these cases, an angler can paddle over to the other side of the river and be within their legal rights to stay there all day as long as the adjacent landowner doesn't care or is not present. The best thing to do in most cases, however is to wish the guy a nice day and move on. There is surely more pleasant water around the next bend. For anglers who prefer to wade, the law is a bit more restrictive, since wading puts the angler on the stream bed. Again, most of the time landowner's don't mind, but if they do, an angler can wade to the other side of the stream as long as that landowner doesn't own both sides.


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If the landowner does own both sides, you need to leave. While boating anglers almost never have problems with landowners, waders occasionally will, due to the fact that waders stay in an area much longer.

Who Owns the Water? Rivers

For this reason, I generally try and wade areas that are out of sight from houses. Still, if a great looking wading spot happens to be right in front of someone's house, I usually wade it anyway. But they started deepening the spillway of the structure to pump out the water from it. Later that was also stopped when people from neighbouring villages joined the protest. As the situation was fast becoming a battlefield, a crisis was averted when Centre for Science and Environment cse , a New Delhi-based non-governmental organisation ngo intervened.

Alerted by the building up of the crisis, cse , after almost 12 hours of efforts, finally reached Rajasthan's chief minister Ashok Gehlot, who stopped the demolition see: 'Row over the Ruparel' on p4. During a meeting with Gehlot the following day, the district magistrate and engineers from the irrigation department decided to lower the height of the structure. They said the structure was not 'safe'.

Though a crisis was averted, the incident has raised serious doubts over the government's approach to people's initiative in managing their water needs. This is not the first time that the district administration has demolished or threatened to demolish water harvesting structures built by the communities. Recently, when the area was reeling under the drought, a water harvesting structure was demolished to make way for an airstrip.

Ironically, Gehlot has been harping on such traditional structures to drought-proof the state. Earlier, the state government declared illegal all structures built by the local ngo Tarun Bharat Sangh tbs , led by Rajendra Singh. Genesis of a conflict The conflict started when the gram panchayat invited the chief minister to inaugurate the structure.

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During a routine check preceding the chief minister's visit, the district magistrate found the structure violating the agreement between princely states of Alwar and Bharatpur. The agreement entitles 55 per cent of Ruparel's water to Bharatpur.

Incidentally, Sinha was earlier the district magistrate of Bharatpur, "The village took it up without taking care of the laws and we can't help much with such violations," said Sinha. What Sinha forgot was that the local mla had laid the foundation for the structure when the district was reeling under drought.

Though the tbs is facilitating the structure, the gram panchayat has all rights over the local water resources. However, the Panchayati Raj Act of Rajasthan stipulates that in case of any conflict, the district magistrate can override the gram panchayat.

Remembering who owns the river

This is what exactly happened in Lava-ka-Baas. For the villagers the structure is crucial. According to tbs estimates, the current level of water can take care of the irrigation needs of the 12 neighbouring villages. Moreover, there is also an additional benefit: more than , people will be benefited by the recharge of thousands of defunct wells located downstream. The villagers estimate that if the monsoon is normal, than by September the structure will be full to its capacity, thus storing enough water for winter crops too.

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Besides quoting the agreement, the district irrigation officials also insisted that the structure was unsafe and, therefore, should be demolished. The structure on one of the tributaries of Ruparel would minimise the flow of water in the river, they claimed. Incidentally, a Rajasthan government study on the Arvari river, that flows due to several hundred such structures, says that johads have not affected the flow of water into the Santhal Sagar dam built by the irrigation department downstream.

Here the history of Ruparel is worth mentioning. Ruparel stopped flowing some three decades ago due to deforestation in its catchment areas. It became a seasonal stream with monsoon waters gushing over its pebble-ridden bed for three months only. The agreement was signed when the river was perennial see box: Chronology of conflicts.

Who Owns the River Who Owns the River
Who Owns the River Who Owns the River
Who Owns the River Who Owns the River
Who Owns the River Who Owns the River
Who Owns the River Who Owns the River

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