Riparian Rights – Accretion

When accretion lands are added by natural forces, the owner of the original body of land acquires title to the new land that is formed. According to the doctrine of title by accretion, when land conveyed is bounded by water, it is to be regarded as an expectancy of both the grantor and grantee that is should be continued to be so bounded. Title to this land, unless preserved, passes with any conveyance of the land which is appurtenant. Bear v. United States, 611 F.Supp. 589 (D.C. Neb. 1985), aff’d, 810 F.2d 153 (8th Cir. 1987). In Bear, title to accretion lands on the Nebraska/Iowa border passed to the grantee, where accretions were expressly provided for in one parcel, and accretion lands were not mentioned in the deeds for the other two parcels.

The rule as to the ownership of accretion land remains the same, even though the processes of accretion are caused or accelerated by the construction work of third parties. Monument Farms, Inc. v. Daggett, 2 Neb. App. 988, 520 N.W.2d 556 (1994); Krumwiede v. Rose, 177 Neb. 570, 129 N.W.2d 491 (1964).

The fact that accretion is due, in whole or in part, to obstructions placed in the river by third parties does not prevent the riparian owner from acquiring title thereto. Monument Farms, Inc. v. Daggett, 2 Neb. App. 988, 520 N.W.2d 556 (1994); citing, Ziemba v. Zeller, 165 Neb. 419, 86 N.W.2d 190 (1957).

Where, at the time of a grant from the United States, the bank of a river formed a part of the boundary of the grant, subsequent accretions, formed by the gradual recession of such bank, attached to and became a part of the grant. State v. Eckland, 147 Neb. 508, 23 N.W.2d 782 (1946); Topping v. Cohn, 71 Neb. 559, 99 N.W. 372 (1904).

If accretions are added to government land they become a part of the tract. State v. Eckland, 147 Neb. 508, 23 N.W.2d 782 (1946); Wiltse v. Bolton, 132 Neb. 354, 272 N.W. 197 (1937).

Grants of land bounded upon a river carry with them the rights and title to the center of the stream. State v. Eckland, 147 Neb. 508, 23 N.W.2d 782 (1946); McBride v. Whitaker, 65 Neb. 137, 90 N.W. 966 (1902).

Where school land belonging to the state was sold for $7 an acre in accordance with the Constitution in force on date of sale and new land was added thereto by changes in river flowing along such land, the new land belonged to the present owner of such school land. State v. Eckland, 147 Neb. 508, 23 N.W.2d 782 (1946).

The evidence clearly showed that the alleged accretive area was an alluvial formation or “river-made” land. The lands in existence in the area at the time of the original government survey had all been washed away by the action of the river. The survey shown on the map is merely a reproduction of the old original survey lines on this newly formed alluvial soil. Conkey v. Knudsen, 143 Neb. 5, 8 N.W.2d 538 (1943).