Navigable River Legal Definition

3. Private ownership of the lands underlying the water or the lands crossed does not preclude the determination of navigability. Ownership becomes a controlling factor when a canal built and operated by the private sector is not used for the transportation of interstate or public commerce. it was not considered a navigable water of the United States. However, a private water body, even if it is not navigable itself, can affect the navigable capacity of surrounding waters to such an extent that it is still subject to certain regulatory authorities. A watercourse can be navigable despite the existence of waterfalls, rapids, sandbanks, bridges, pordates, currents or similar obstacles. Thus, a waterway in its original state could have significant obstacles, which were overcome by boundary vessels and/or portages, while remaining a “channel” of trade, although the boats had to be taken out of the water in some sections or the logs had to be moved around an obstacle by artificial slips. However, the issue is ultimately one of degree, and it must be recognized that there is a point beyond which airworthiness could not be established. (b) method of determination. The determination of whether a water body is a navigable water body of the United States shall be made by the Divisional Engineer and shall be based on a report of the results prepared at the district level in accordance with the criteria set out in these Regulations. Each result report is prepared by the District Engineer with the advice of the District Council and forwarded to the Department Engineer for final decision.

Each report shall be based primarily on the applicable parts of the format set out in point (c) of this Section. A body of water such as a river, canal or lake is navigable if it is deep, wide and calm enough for a boat (e.g. boats) to pass safely. Such navigable water is called a waterway and is preferably with few obstacles against direct crossings that should be avoided, such as rocks, reefs or trees. Bridges built over watercourses must have sufficient headroom. High flow velocity can make a canal non-navigable due to the risk of collision with ships. Water bodies may not be navigable due to ice, especially in winter or in high-latitude areas. Seaworthiness also depends on context: a small river may be navigable by smaller boats such as a motorboat or kayak, but not by a larger cargo ship or cruise ship.

Shallow rivers can be made navigable by installing locks that regulate flow and raise water levels upstream, or by dredging that deepens parts of the creek bed. The precise definitions of “U.S. navigable waters” or “seaworthiness” ultimately depend on judicial interpretation and cannot be conclusively established by administrative authorities. However, the guidelines and criteria contained in this regulation are closely consistent with the criteria used by federal courts, and findings made under this regulation are considered binding with respect to the activities of the Corps of Engineers. The basis for federal jurisdiction over navigable waters is found in the U.S. Constitution. Since the early nineteenth century, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the trade clause (Section 1, Section 8) gives the federal government broad powers to regulate interstate commerce. This view emerged in 1824 in the fundamental case Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S.

(9 wheat.) 1, 6 L. ed. 23. In Gibbons, the Court was faced with the question of whether to give precedence to federal or state law in the licensing of vessels. He ruled that the navigation of ships in and out of the country`s ports is a form of interstate commerce and that, therefore, federal law must take precedence. This decision led to the contemporary exercise of broad federal power over navigable waters and countless other areas of interstate commerce. (b) It should be noted that the lists represent only those waters for which provision has been made. The absence of this list should not be taken as an indication that the water is not navigable. The scope of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission`s (FERC) jurisdiction was granted by the Federal Power Act, 1941 (16 U.S.C 791). This power is based on the power of Congress to regulate commerce; it is not based solely on ownership of the riverbed [16 U.S.C.

796(8)] or even on navigability. As a result, FERC`s permitting authority extends to the river from non-navigable tributaries to protect downstream trade [U.S. Rio Grande Irrigation, 174 U.S. 690, 708 (1899)], [Oklahoma v. Atkinson, 313 U.S. 508, 525]. In addition, the Clean Water Act introduced the terms “traditional navigable waters” and “U.S. waters” to define the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. Here, “U.S. waters” include not only navigable waters, but also tributaries of navigable waters and surrounding wetlands with “a significant association with navigable waters”; both fall under the Clean Water Act.

As a result, the Clean Water Act establishes federal jurisdiction beyond “navigable waters” and extends more limited federal jurisdiction under the Act to private property, which can sometimes be flooded by bodies of water. Because jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act extends beyond public property, the broader definitions of “traditionally navigable” and “significant connection” used to determine jurisdiction under the Act are still ambiguously defined and therefore open to judicial interpretation, as noted in two U.S. Supreme Court decisions: “Carabell v. the United States” and “Rapanos v. the United States”. [1] However, since jurisdiction under the Act is limited solely to the protection of navigable waters, jurisdiction over these small waterways is not absolute and may require fair compensation from landowners when invoked to protect downstream waters. U.S. navigable waters are waters that are subject to tidal ebb and flow and/or that are currently used or have been used in the past or that may be vulnerable to interstate or foreign trade transportation. Once the seaworthiness determination has been completed applies laterally over the entire surface of the water body and is not extinguished by subsequent acts or events that impede or destroy navigable capability. Extensive federal regulations on navigable waters often give rise to litigation and, in many cases, the courts have the difficult task of determining whether certain waters are navigable (and therefore subject to the relevant law or regulation).

Lakes and rivers are generally considered navigable waters, but smaller bodies of water may also be navigable.