Water School

What is riparian doctrine?

In Texas, surface-water rights are governed by duel doctrine that take widely differing approaches: riparian and appropriation. Riparian doctrine was introduced to Texas more than 200 years ago during the Spanish colonial period and has since incorporated elements of English common law.

Under this doctrine, property owners have a right to draw water from a stream or water body that crosses or borders their land. They are allowed to take water for a reasonable use and are protected against unreasonable use by others. The right has an emphasis on use of natural flow, meaning the rights cannot be claimed for long-term storage, such as a reservoir. These rights allow only for smaller-scale use on the property, such as irrigation, and the water is not to be transferred to land that is not adjacent to the stream.




The information provided on this site is intended as background on water within the Brazos River basin. There should be no expectation that this information is all encompassing, complete or in any way examines every aspect of this very complex natural resource.

If you have questions about a post or would like additional information, please contact us or call 888-922-6272.

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