I am confused about who actually owns land under water by what appears to be contradictory statements on your website. In the section “What are riparian rights” I find the statement “A waterfront owner does not own the water, and does not own the land under the water, or even the land below the tide-line, but does own access to the water. “. In the section, “Fences and Waterviews”, you make this statement about a case: “Its most interesting feature may be the fact that Gowanus actually owned the bottom of the basin in question”. So does the State or others own the land under water, or is there somehow a mix?
Robert — in navigable waters (that is to say land below mean high water in places where there is tidal flow) the land under the water is owned by the State, unless the circumstances are very unusual. In Maryland, for example, there remain some land grants that include land under the water and that predate statehood. Pretty much everywhere on the Chesapeake or the seashore, therefore, the land under the water is owned by the state. The analysis is different, however, for ponds and streams that are not touched by the tide. Generally the bottoms of a stream running through private property are privately owned by the land owner that owns the land surrounding the stream. There are of course exceptions to this as well, but it is generally true. Landlocked ponds are generally owned by the landowners surrounding.
Hope that helps.
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