Amelia Gomes  /   12/16/2022

Navigating Water Access and Mineral Rights On Your Property

Access to water is one of eight specific targets the United Nations General Assembly curated as part of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This concept refers to the availability of water close enough to homes to meet basic household needs. This post will help you understand how vital water access is for your property. By the time you’re done with this article, we believe you’ll have the answers to questions like “What are water rights?” and “How can I make and maintain my water system?”

At Community Lands, we ensure that you have and can use essential and useful amenities on your property. That includes helping you understand what water access means and how water systems are vital to your land. This comprehensive and helpful post will educate you on the meaning of water access, rights, systems, and other valuable information. Let’s go!

What is water access?

Water is a resource that many utilize for drinking, domestic use, food production, or recreational activities. That’s why households must get safe, readily available water for their health and other reasons. Therefore, water access refers to water that is available for your to carry out your basic needs.

Improved water supply, sanitation, and water resource management can significantly lower poverty and boost a country’s economic growth.

Sustainable water access boosts livelihoods, builds community resilience, and saves lives. Progress in almost all facets of global development depends on water security, sanitation, and hygiene investments.

Water access also affects your well-being. It goes on to predict prospects for a sustainable income, and the ability to pursue educational opportunities.

What are water rights?

Water rights refer to your rights as a landowner to use and access waterbodies close to your property. Various water rights exist based on the many types of water surrounding or living on a property.

As a landowner, you have the right to use the water as long as doing so does not negatively impact your neighbors up or downstream. If the water is a non-navigable channel, the landowner usually owns the area of a property that lies directly below the water up to the waterway’s exact center.

Appropriation vs. Riparian Water Rights

If you are in the eastern and western regions of the US, you may have different water rights. The previous appropriation doctrine, which gives the right to divert water to the first individual who starts utilizing it, has historically been adhered to by the western states. On the other hand, the riparian doctrine restricts water use to the owner of the land next to the water. The majority of eastern states follow the latter.

Riparian rights are given to landowners whose property is situated alongside moving bodies of water, like rivers or streams.

Littoral and Appurtenant Water Rights

On the other hand, landowners with a lot that borders sizable, navigable lakes and oceans have littoral rights. These bodies of water are subject to tides and currents, but they do not pass by the land in the same way as streams and rivers. As a result, holders of littoral rights have free access to the waters, but only up to the median high water mark on their land.

State laws governing water rights vary, and each municipality has the authority to impose stricter rules on who can access and use the water. Water rights are also appurtenant, meaning they belong to the land rather than the owner. For example, when an oceanfront property is sold, the seller forfeits their rights, and the new owner acquires the littoral rights. However, there are special considerations concerning these rights. 

It is legal for a landowner with a property with a riverbank adjacent to a flowing river to utilize the water for personal needs, such as drinking, watering pets, bathing, or watering gardens. However, riparian rights may prevent the water from being pumped out of the running river or stream or removed in any other way.

What are mineral rights?

Mineral rights are ownership claims to subterranean resources, including fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal. Other examples include metals, ores, and mineable rocks like limestone and salt.

Mineral rights and surface rights have different legal statuses in the United States. You may have surface rights that allow for the use of the property’s surface for various uses. This includes residential, agricultural, commercial, and others. Any natural resources located beneath the land are the owner’s property concerning mineral rights.

Mineral rights also include the water found under your property.

The US allows private individuals to buy land and to hold the rights to develop and utilize it, along with any natural resources located beneath its surface. Many states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Colorado, and New Mexico, separate mineral rights from surface rights. In North Carolina, sellers of real estate are required to tell you as a prospective buyer if the sale includes the mineral rights to the underlying ground. 

But there aren’t any disclosure laws like that in other states. This can lead to circumstances where a landowner learns about lucrative resources beneath their property only to learn they cannot take advantage of those resources.

Because mineral rights are transferable to private ownership in the United States, property owners who have rights to valuable minerals on their land may sell such rights to private firms, sometimes netting sizable up-front or recurring royalties in the process. 

As homebuyers, you should know how to review the land title records for your property correctly. By confirming whether surface rights and mineral rights are included as part of your acquisition, you can reduce the risk of royalty payments. The local property appraisal authorities or the county clerk’s records department typically have access to these papers.

What Are the Different Types of Water Systems?

A residence may include several different types of water systems. At any given time, one or more may be in use. The type of water system and the water quality in any location might determine whether or not a residence needs different systems. Below are the different types of water systems you should know:

City system

City systems feature a big tank from which the water is piped into a home, apartment, or building by traveling through a meter to determine the quantity of water used and invoiced to the consumer.

Water treatment system chemicals can occasionally be found in city water. To maintain the purity of the water, fluoride, and chemicals for sterilization, including chlorine, are frequently added. These compounds may impact the flavor of the water. Metals naturally existing in groundwater may also be removed from city water through treatment.


A community or subdivision may use a water well system to provide water to residences, or an individual homeowner may use one on their land.

Owners of private land with a home water well may employ a water filtration system to eliminate minerals like calcium and iron from the water.

Holding tank

Until there is a demand for water in the home or place of business, pure water from your reverse osmosis system is kept in a holding tank. Water is pumped into the tank, such as a well or reverse osmosis system, from the water source. The water in the tank builds up until it is full. The storage tank gives you immediate access to water whenever you need it.

How to maintain your water system

A water system makes you confident that the water you drink or use for different purposes is as clean and secure as possible. That’s why it’s essential to maintain this water system effectively. To ensure the successful function of this system, here are some things to follow:

Regularly Scheduled Inspections

Experts highly recommend that you have a routine inspection performed once a year to help ensure that your system is functioning to its full potential.

Schedule a maintenance visit as soon as an issue arises. It is advisable to deal with a problem immediately before it can harm the system. Reasons like a change in your water quality or a strange sound in the system are enough to do this.

Understand the different requirements

It’s essential to have most of your maintenance information before choosing your water system. For instance, a water softener will need regular salt additions. In some scenarios, you might also need to replace some aspects. Others will require routine filter replacements. If you don’t perform these maintenance tasks, your device may lose vital functions or, worse yet, fail.

Understanding water access and how to go about it on your property cements the constant water supply. Essential concepts like water rights and systems also help you better navigate your property and tailor it to fit your plans. All this information enables you to understand your property better. It also equips you with the right resources to make sustainable decisions.

To learn more about how to be the most efficient and environmentally-friendly land owner you can be, visit the Community Lands’ Learn Center.

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