The last thing we need to cover with this lesson is a few geographic terms, starting with WATER RIGHTS.  Water Rights are the right to use water on, or adjacent to a property.  There are several types of water rights.  RIPARIAN rights are the rights along a river or stream.  Under Riparian rights, the owner of an adjacent property owns to the center of the river or stream if it is NOT navigable (meaning no boats or ships can sail or navigate through the water).  If the river IS navigable, then the property owner owns to the water’s edge, and the government owns the river itself.  Riparian can be remembered by thinking that Riparian and River both begin with the letter “R.”


LITTORAL rights are along a lake or larger body of water (Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay, etc.).  Under Littoral rights, the property owner owns to the mean high water mark (the point exactly in the middle of the highest high water mark and the lowest high water mark, i.e. the normal high tide).  The government owns beyond that point.  Littoral can be remembered, because Littoral, Lake and Larger Body of Water all begin with the letter “L.”  Under both Littoral and Riparian rights, the government may give a property owner the right to build a private pier that extends out into the body of water.


One other term associated with water rights is the doctrine of PRIOR APPROPRIATION.  This is used in states where water is scarce.  Under Prior Appropriation, the state owns the water rights except for limited domestic use.


Aside from water rights, there are a few other geographic terms you may need to know.  AVULSION is the sudden loss of land by an act of nature.  If a flash flood washes part of your property away, that is Avulsion.  The process where land is gained by deposits from a river, lake or stream is called ACCRETION, and the actual soil deposited is called ALLUVIUM (or ALLUVIAL DEPOSITS).  The gradual wearing away of land by wind, rain or water is called EROSION.  And the process where land is gained by water receding is called RELICTION.


To determine the geographic features of a property, someone might use a CONTOUR MAP.  This can be used to show elevations and the layout of the land, for example, where hills and other features are located, and how steep or gradual the hills are.  This is done on a Contour Map by drawing lines between points of equal elevation, so that every point on any line will be at the same level.



In the Contour Map above, the slope on the left side is steeper, because you don’t have to travel very far to drop down 10 feet, but on the right is a more gradual slope, because you have to travel a longer distance to drop 10 feet.


A TOPOGRAPHIC MAP serves the same basic function, but may use colors or a cut away view to show the elevations.




Now that you know all the fundamentals of property, let’s take a QUIZ!  Click here!


If you have any questions you can e-mail me at HELP@yourdailyquiz.com