Illinois Water Supply Planning




Rule of reasonable use:
     Use of water to meet natural wants and a fair share for artificial wants. Following Evans v. Merriweather (4 Ill. 492, 1842) the Court stated, "The property in the virtue of riparian ownership, is in its nature usufructuary, and consists, in general, not so much of the fluid itself, as the advantage of its impetus....There may, and there must be, of that which is common to all, a reasonable use." The wants of man in regard to water are either natural (are absolutely necessary to be supplied, in order to his existence) or artificial (such only as, by supplying them, his comfort and propriety are increased). After all natural wants along a water course are satisfied, the riparian proprietors may use the remaining water for artificial uses...but no more than their just proportion. Usufructuary rights under the rule of reasonable use in Illinois are property rights to the use of resources, in contrast to proprietary rights, which are rights of ownership. The Water Use Act of 1983 statutorily rejects the absolute ownership doctrine and adopts the rule of reasonable use for groundwater as defined in Evans v. Merriweather. For more discussion, see Groundwater Quantity Issues, 1989, by the Groundwater Quantity Committee of the Illinois State Water Plan Task Force.

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