Riparian Rights – Reasonable Use of Water

Water for domestic use and for irrigation purposes in the State of Nebraska is a natural want. Nebraska Constitution, Art. XV, § 4.

While the owner of land is entitled to appropriate subterranean or other waters accumulating on his land, as part of the realty, the waters may not be extracted or appropriated in excess of a reasonable and beneficial use for the land he or she owns that is unconnected with the beneficial use of the land, especially if such use is in exceeds the reasonable and beneficial and is injurious to others who have substantial rights to the water. Prather v. Eisenmann, 200 Neb. 1, 261 N.W.2d 766 (1978); Metropolitan Utils. Dist. v. Merritt Beach Co., 179 Neb. 783, 140 N.W.2d 626 (1966); Luchsinger v. Loup River Public Power Dist., 140 Neb. 179, 299 N.W. 549 (1941); Olson v. City of Wahoo, 124 Neb. 802, 248 N. W. 304 (1933).

The landowner’s right to use ground water is an appurtenance to the ownership of the overlying land, but ground water use is not a unlimited private property right. Springer v. Kuhns, 6 Neb.App. 115, 571 N.W.2d 323 (1997); Sorensen v. Lower Niobrara Nat. Resources Dist., 221 Neb. 180, 376 N.W.2d 539 (1985).