Skip to main content

Water Boundaries

Water Boundaries

George M. Cole

ISBN: 978-0-471-17929-0

Apr 1997

208 pages

Select type: Hardcover

In Stock



A comprehensive guide to all legal and technical aspects of water boundaries.

Water Boundaries is a single-source guide to all critical legal and technical water boundary issues. An indispensable resource for surveyors, political geographers, public land managers, attorneys, developers, real estate professionals, and students in these and other related fields, this book provides:

  • In-depth discussions of the legal issues surrounding all types of water boundaries
  • The full range of modern methods of precise water boundary locationDetailed technical specifications for mean high water line surveys
  • Relevant algorithms and mathematical formulas
  • Illustrative real-world case studies

Water boundaries are perhaps the oldest and most widely used of man's boundaries. Yet, despite this long history of usage, water boundaries are probably the most frequently and bitterly contested boundaries in today's society. Because shorelines and bodies of water are dynamic rather than static, knotty technical and legal disagreements over water boundaries invariably crop up. Recent land use practices have created a growing demand for precisely located and legally defensible water boundaries. As a consequence, the need for a single-source professional reference such as this has never been greater.

Water Boundaries is a comprehensive reference devoted exclusively to this highly specialized area. Written for surveyors and engineers, as well as legal and real estate professionals, it provides in-depth discussions of the legal issues surrounding each type of water boundary while describing the full range of modern methods for precisely locating them.

This volume covers all types of water boundaries, including division lines between private uplands and public submerged lands in both tidal and nontidal waters, lateral division lines between adjacent riparian ownerships, boundaries between state and federal waters, and offshore international boundaries.

For technical specialists, the author provides detailed specifications for mean high water line surveys, as well as all relevant mathematics, including formulas for calculating tidal data and predicting optimum placement of tide gauges, analytical techniques for estimating high water in nontidal bodies of water, and the use of coordinate geometry in constructing equidistant and median lines.

Technical and nontechnical readers alike will appreciate the many illustrative real-world case studies scattered throughout the book.

Water Boundaries is an indispensable resource for surveyors, public land managers, attorneys, developers, and real estate professionals, and for all those involved in land planning, offshore mineral extraction, and other related fields.

Preface xi

1 Tidal Sovereign/Upland Water Boundaries 1

1.1 Background and History 1

1.2 Boundary Definitions in Tidal Waters 2

1.3 Techniques for Locating Tidal Boundaries 7

1.4 Case Studies 46

2 Nontidal Sovereign/Upland Water Boundaries 57

2.1 Background and History 57

2.2 Boundary Definitions in Nontidal Waters 58

2.3 Techniques for Locating Nontidal Boundaries 60

2.4 Case Studies 67

3 Riparian rights Related to Sovereign/Upland Boundaries 83

3.1 Division Lines for Rights within Adjacent Waters 84

3.2 Rights of Upland Owners to Newly Formed Land 90

4 Historic Boundary Location 93

4.1 Shoreline Changes 93

4.2 Techniques for Locating historic Shorelines 94

4.3 Sources of Information for Historic Shorelines 96

4.4 Interpretation of Historic Shoreline Maps and Surveys 101

5 Use of Government Land Office Meander Lines as Boundaries 105

5.1 Introduction 105

5.2 To Meander or Not to Meander 106

5.3 Location of Meander Lines 109

6 Which Waters Are Sovereign? 113

6.1 General Criteria 113

6.2 Navigability-in-Fact v. Navigability-in-Law 114

6.3 Nonnavigable Coves and Tributaries 116

6.4 Floodplains Adjoining Navigable Waters 118

7 Boundaries between Water Bodies 123

7.1 Introduction 123

7.2 Boundaries between Adjacent Navigable Water Bodies 124

7.3 Limits of Tidal Influence 135

8 State and Federal Water Boundaries 137

8.1 Background and History 137

8.2 Boundary Definitions 138

8.3 Techniques for Locating State/Federal Water Boundaries 142

9 Lateral Water Boundaries of States 145

9.1 Types of Lateral Boundaries 145

9.2 Construction of Equidistant and Median Lines 148

9.3 Proportionality 153

9.4 Case Study 154

10 National Water Boundaries 161

10.1 Historic Overview 161

10.2 Baselines for National Boundaries 163

10.3 Techniques for Locating National Boundaries 165

11 Boundaries in Nonsovereign Waters 167

11.1 Introduction 167

11.2 Boundaries in Streams 168

11.3 Boundaries in Lakes 170

11.4 Changes in Nonsovereign Water Boundaries 172

Appendix Specifications for Mean High Water Line Surveys 173

References 181

Law Case Citations 187

Index 191