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Water Pollution as a Private Nuisance

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What Is a Private Nuisance?

A private nuisance is the unreasonable or unlawful use of property, which impairs another person's right to the use and enjoyment of their own property.

When Can Water Pollution Occur?

Water pollution generally occurs when someone introduces or discharges a contaminant into a water source. These contaminants can include:

  • Chemicals,
  • Animal feces, or
  • Industrial bi-products.

Water pollution has the potential to do serious damage, including injuries to health, crops, or animals that use or live in the water.  In order to detect water pollution, it can be helpful to look at:

  • A change in the water's color, odor, or taste,
  • Any visible change in the soil around a water source,
  • Negative effects on humans or animals that consume the water,
  • A burning sensation when coming in contact with the water, or
  • A low crop yield.

What Do You Have to Prove for Water Pollution as a Private Nuisance?

In order to have a successful lawsuit against another for water pollution as a private nuisance, you must prove:

  1. The other person's actions interfered with your use or enjoyment of your property,
  2. Their conduct was what caused that interference, and
  3. If they acted intentionally, the result was unreasonable, or if they acted unintentionally, the result and conduct that led to the water pollution was unreasonable.

Are There Any Defenses?

A lawsuit for water pollution as a private nuisance can be defended in many ways.  A few common examples include:

  • The water pollution did not interfere with the person's use and enjoyment of their land,
  • The water pollution did not cause the interference with the person's use and enjoyment of their land,
  • The conduct or result that led to the water pollution was not unreasonable,
  • A statute bars such a lawsuit, or
  • The injured person consented to the conduct that led to the water pollution.

What Can Be Recovered?

Generally, a successful lawsuit will recover any damages for the harm to property or persons affected by the water pollution. This can include present and future medical expenses, compensation for economic losses, and punitive damages in some cases.

Are There Any Other Theories of Liability?

A case of water pollution can be considered as a private nuisance. There are other ways to be successful in a lawsuit for water pollution. Some of the other theories of liability for water pollution include:

Do I Need an Attorney for Water Pollution Issues?

If you are the victim of water pollution, or you are being sued for polluting someone else's water, it is highly recommended for you to find a real estate and property or personal injury attorney because along with the civil liability, criminal liability may also exits.  Only an attorney will be able to adequately explain the issues and help defend your rights.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 04-19-2016 01:39 PM PDT

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