Waterfront homes are a hot commodity in real estate; they offer a great view, calm and serenity and typically hold their value very well. Owning property alongside a natural watercourse, however, has its unique rights and responsibilities. A “Riparian Owner,” as they call these homeowners, is considered to own the land up to the center line of any non-tidal watercourse. According to the Environmental Agency, an ordinary watercourse is a natural river or stream that is not a “main river.”

Riparian Owners has specific rights and responsibilities that come with owning waterfront property.

Rights – Riparian owners are entitled to protect their property from flooding and to protect their banks from eroding. These rights, however, are modified by a duty to the environment and the rest of the community. Environmental issues must be considered when protecting land from flooding and erosion, including wildlife conservation, fisheries and reshaping of the river or waterway. The Environmental Protection Agency protects these issues and a homeowner must obtain consent from the EPA as well as local authorities before making any modifications to the water or land. Some of these modifications may include, but are not limited to, the installation of dams, weirs, mills or channel diversions.

Responsibilities – Riparian owners must also uphold certain duties for the sake of their neighbors and the environment. One of the most important responsibilities of a Riparian owner is to care for their neighbor’s upstream and downsteam, meaning they must avoid doing anything that can cause flooding to a neighbors land or property. A riparian owner is also responsible for maintaining the watercourse and banks, even if the Council has taken care of it in the past. Some of these duties may include repairing the banks, protecting trees and vegetation, and clearing any obstructions.

Additionally, there are restrictions for sitting any kind of structural work on or near river banks, which is also regulated by the EPA. Riparian owners are required to preserve access to the banks of rivers and streams; such as fencing and controlling the undergrowth and vegetation, for safety purposes.

Finally, a riparian owner must uphold their responsibility of keeping the water free from obstructions, and to keep the flow of water from becoming blocked. One of the most common issues with blocking waterways is when homeowners deposit waste into ditches and watercourse, whether it be garden material or trash, it can create major problems for their neighbors and delicate ecosystem. If you’re looking at waterfront Cherry Creek homes for sale, make sure to talk with your Real Estate Agent about the kinds of rights and responsibilities of owning each property.

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