Previously, we mentioned the favorable decision recently reached in the water dispute between Georgia and Florida concerning the use of water from the Apalachicola-Cattahoochee-Flint River Basin. As we noted last time, one of the challenges involved in the interstate water wars is that fundamental property rights are at stake.
The general rule of water use law in Georgia, if there could be said to be one, is the riparian rights doctrine. Under this doctrine, property owners are entitled to surface water which flows naturally across or by their land, and may make reasonable use of the water for domestic, manufacturing or agricultural purposes. Unreasonable use would be when the landowner uses the water in such a way as to harm other riparian owners, particularly those downstream.