water right


Definition of water right

: a right to the use of water (as for irrigation) especially : riparian right

Examples of water right in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

After the level rose dramatically in 1907 following a big winter, causing flooding, property owners, farmers, ranchers, the local utility company and other powerful interests battled in court over water rights and how to control the lake’s height. Paul Rogers, The Mercury News, "Lake Tahoe fills to the top as massive winter snows melt," 12 July 2019 The Compact of Free Association continues to govern the U.S. relationship with the islands, including $100 million in aid annually, water rights conventions and other cooperation. Los Angeles Times, "Micronesia reaffirms U.S. support while Australia hesitates to join campaign against Iran," 5 Aug. 2019 The city bought the property to protect water rights in the aquifer under Ford Ranch. Steve Brown, Dallas News, "Huge Central Texas ranch for sale covers 50 square miles with a price tag just as large," 19 July 2019 After reading how Harvard’s proxy has acquired significant water rights in California, the good people there are now learning a lesson imparted to us by my grandfather many years ago. WSJ, "Cherish Water as a Precious, Scarce Resource," 19 Dec. 2018 Our ancestors were forced into boarding schools and to abide by strict laws on land, language, and water rights. Parvannah Lee, Teen Vogue, "I'm From the Navajo Nation and I Want to Help My Community Get Healthy Food," 22 Nov. 2018 Two states split Lake Texoma's water rights—and its name—50/50. Ken Jennings, Condé Nast Traveler, "This Texas Lake Developed a Boat-Swallowing Whirlpool," 3 Sep. 2018 In other countries, the status has been awarded to Kabuki theater in Japan, the manufacture of batik cloth in Indonesia and the pre-Inca tradition in Peru of specialized judges who determine water rights. Claire Mufson, BostonGlobe.com, "Bistros are the life of Paris, but are they UNESCO worthy?," 16 June 2018 Timing is also an issue The Bureau of Reclamation’s water right at Lucky Peak allows for irrigation from its stored water starting in March. Melissa Davlin And Seth Ogilvie, idahostatesman, "These reservoirs keep Boise from flooding. But irrigators don't like how they're run.," 4 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'water right.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of water right

1793, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

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The first known use of water right was in 1793

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More Definitions for water right

water right


Financial Definition of water right

What It Is

Water rights are the legal permissions to use water in a specific way.

How It Works

For example, let's assume that John buys a house on the famous Yellowstone River in Livingston, Montana. The house is on riverfront property. The county's water rights laws specify that his property is private up to the high-water mark of the river. The public is allowed to use the waterway itself, but they may not "camp out" on the bank. The local water laws also specify that John can use a reasonable amount of the river water to irrigate his crops, as long as he follows local regulations and ensures that no wastewater from his property enters the river.

There are different kinds of water rights. Riparian rights are rights to surface waters such as lakes, rivers, and streams. Littoral rights are rights to oceans or very large bodies of water. Water rights can also apply to groundwater.

Why It Matters

In general, water belongs to the public. Water rights are permission to use the water; they are not permission to own the water. Water rights do not necessarily give landowners permission to transport water away from the property.

From an investment perspective, water rights are very valuable. Land with water rights is more valuable than land without water rights.

Every state has its own laws regarding how water rights convey, are acquired, or are forfeited. However, most property owners can establish water rights through their continued actual use of the water (known as "use it or lose it").

Source: Investing Answers

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