Illinois Water Supply Planning




Absolute ownership doctrine:
     "This doctrine, also known as the English common-law doctrine, was first stated in the English case of Acton v Blundell in 1843. This doctrine is based on the concept that each landowner has complete ownership of the groundwater under his land just as he does the soil and minerals. A landowner, therefore, has unlimited right to use groundwater and to interfere with his neighbor's supply of groundwater through normal use activities subject only to the general prohibitions against waste, malicious interference, or negligence. Even though this doctrine refers to absolute ownership, it does not create an enforceable water right; since no legal action can be taken to prevent injury produced by the activities of others. Thus, the doctrine constitutes a simple rule of capture. The doctrine of absolute ownership was developed at a time when groundwater movement was considered unpredictable if not totally incomprehensible. Therefore, it follows that a landowner who is legally entitled to everything beneath his property, should not be legally responsible to others for the adverse effects of groundwater pumpage which could not be anticipated in advance." (ISWPTF, 1989) The Illinois Water Use Act of 1983 statutorily rejected the absolute ownership doctrine and adopted the Rule of Reasonable Use for groundwater.

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