LEGAL DEFINITION OF “WATER’S EDGE.”
A correspondent asks: “How is a deed to be interpreted which describes a property as running to a certain point at the water’s edge, thence easterly along the water’s edge 1,000 ft.? How is the water’s edge to be measured, literally round every little point, bay or boulder, or with a stretched line, following the general direction of the shore?” The answer, according to legal experts, seems to be that, where a deed describes property as extending to the “water’s edge,” of course, that deed must be interpreted with regard to the kind of water and the shape of the shore. If it is to the edge of a river, the line can be very easily defined: but, if it is to the edge of a lake or sea, then a different interpretation may have to be applied. There is a “tide” in the sea which leaves a margin between low-water mark and high-water mark, which is called the “fore shore,” and it may be that a question will arise whether it was intended that the grantee should have all of the land extending down to low-water mark, or should be limited to the line of high-water mark. Then, in the case of a lake: While, as a general rule, there is no tide in the great lakes of America, yet there are irregularities and indentations in the shore, and sometimes there are floods or storms which raise the height of the water and cause it to flood back a number of feet or rods, and thus to make a high water mark and a low-water mark, somewhat similar to the margin of the ocean. The matter about which inquiry is made, however, relates more particularly to the irregularities and indentations of the shore. Mr. Gould, a Canadian authority, in his excellent work on the law of waters. has said, that this stripof land along the coast, which is daily covered and left bare by the tide, and is called the “shore,” is a part of the county when the tide is out, and is part of the sea when the tide is in. Such inlets and branches of sea. when sufficiently narrow, are within the line of jurisdiction of the county, and may be included in the description—in other words, the indentations, when small, will be included within the description, and the line will be drawn straight from one point on the shore to another point on the shore, taking in the small indentations. If, on the other hand, the inlets or indentations of water are large and deep, the line will run round them, and will not cross them, because the law relating to navigation must preserve the water for the purposes of navigation, and it will not he presumed that the grant of land to the water’s edge was intended to cover any bay or inlet which is naviga ble or which might be required for the purposes of navigation. See Gould on Waters, edition 1900, sections 4, 28, JO and 170, where the whole matter is discussed at too great length to quote in this colump.
Lewis, the smallest town in the State of Iowa, with only 626 inhabitants, by a vote of 61 to 17 has just ordered the council to issue $5,000 waterworks bonds.