On today’s show we are talking about water. Water is one of those life sustaining commodities. Water is seemingly everywhere, and scarce at the same time. 3/4 of our planet’s surface is water. Our human bodies are about 65% water. 

In many parts of the country if you don’t have municipal water supply at your property, it is often sufficient to drill a well and you will find water. 

But in arid parts of the world, water can be in short supply. 

Water in most commonwealth countries follows Riparian water rights which is based on British common law. 

In the Western part of the United States, water follows the doctrine of prior appropriations. 

All of this means that the ownership of the water is separate from the ownership of the land. Water is treated in a manner similar to mineral rights. Just like mineral rights can be separated from the land and sold. So too the water rights can be severed and sold. The office of public record for water right ownership is the county recorder’s office for the counties in which the water is diverted. Just like the county recorder maintains sequential order of priority for ownership, easements, and liens, water follows the same process. 

When you buy a parcel of land, a certain amount of water is associated with the land, and this water right is recorded on title.  This is usually measured in annual usage measured in acre feet along with a peak flow rate measured in CFS. 

In the Western part of the US, when you purchase land and rezone it for development, you often need to surrender your water rights to the municipality in exchange for getting access to the city water supply. If your property doesn’t have enough water rights to sustain the density you are seeking, you might be forced to buy additional water in order to qualify for the density you are seeking.