What Down Stream Water Rights Do I Have For My Property?

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I live in West Virginia. A place called North Springs West Virginia. We have a lawsuit already against my neighbor because they told us they owned 15 feet of our land so we had it surveyed and we actually owned more over on their side of property than the other way around; however, this is mostly a ditch line going up a mountain but it is a stream – it doesn’t run all the time just when it rains, but if it is closed it will most likely flood our property. Today our neighbor went back on his side of the stream and cut the property down to flow more water in the stream, which is probably going to cause our property to flood . What rights do I have? He cut it down on my side of the property. He made a ditch from his side of his property into the stream the I half own and it will most likely flood my property. He does not have a permit. What do I need to do and can he be fined for doing this?

Since you already have a lawsuit pending, your attorney may be able to add to it to account for this new action by your neighbor, if that’s appropriate. This may vary from state to state, but generally speaking, once you change the natural flow of water, you become responsible for any damage caused by that change. So your neighbor may be responsible for the water that is, or will be, trespassing on your property. And that’s on top of any trespass he may have done in making the change.

There may be other steps you can take, such as reporting this to the appropriate administrative authority, but since you’re already in for the expense of a lawsuit, it probably makes sense to look at that option first.