Pecos, NM asked in Environmental and Land Use & Zoning for New Mexico

Q: What law pertains, Neighbor changed flow of storm water by blocking arroyo and thus causing damage to road and dwellings

1 Lawyer Answer
Robert King Reges Jr.
Robert King Reges Jr.
  • Real Estate Law Lawyer
  • Anchorage, AK

A: The first question you have to answer is whether New Mexico treats an "arroyo" as a "watercourse" or as a mere "drainway" for precipitation. Most states disallow blockage of a "watercourse" (bed, banks and reasonably consistent source of water) unless permitted (e.g. right to build a dam). Permission is often a right ancillary to a water appropriation (the right to take water). If the arroyo is not a "watercourse" and/or the blocking party is not implementing a granted appropriation such that this is merely unauthorized diversion of storm water, retain local counsel to identify New Mexico's applicable surface water rules. Throughout the U.S. there are 3 common-law rules regulating surface water: "The Common Enemy Doctrine"; "The Natural Flow Rule"; and "The Reasonable Use Rule (or Doctrine)." That which a person can or cannot do turns on which of those rules the forum state is currently applying. Note that "The Reasonable Use Rule" is the newest of these rules so check recent cases. Older cases may no longer be controlling.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.