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Riparian Rights - Thread of Stream



Along the Missouri River, accretion is sometimes more rapid than avulsion because the abandoned bed often forms a cut-off lake or is filled again in flood periods. Conkey v. Knudsen, 143 Neb. 5, 8 N.W.2d 538 (1943); Kinkead v. Turgeon, 74 Neb. 573, 104 N.W. 1061, 109 N.W. 744 (1906).

"Under the common law a riparian owner of lands on one side of a navigable river above the flow of the tide holds to the thread of the stream, subject to the public easement of navigation, and, if the river suddenly changes its channel and leaves its former bed, the boundary does not change, and he still holds to the same line. This is also the rule of the civil law." Valder v. Wallis, 242 N.W.2d 112, 196 Neb. 222 (1976); Kinkead v. Turgeon, 74 Neb. 580, 109 N. W. 744 (1906).

Subject to the easement of navigation, riparian owners are entitled to the possession and ownership of an island formerly under waters of the stream as far as the thread of the stream. Monument Farms, Inc. v. Daggett, 2 Neb. App. 988, 520 N.W.2d 556 (1994); Summerville v. Scotts Bluff County, 182 Neb. 311, 154 N.W.2d 517 (1967).

The thread or center of a channel, as the term is employed, must be the line which would give the owners on either side access to the water, whatever its stage might be, and particularly at its lowest flow. Monument Farms, Inc. v. Daggett, 2 Neb. App. 988, 520 N.W.2d 556 (1994); State v. Ecklund, 147 Neb. 508, 23 N.W.2d 782 (1946). In other words, the thread of the stream is the deepest groove or trench in the bed of a river channel, the last part of the bed to run dry. Where the thread of a stream is the boundary between estates and that stream has two channels, the thread of the main channel is the boundary between the estates. See also Hardt v. Orr, 142 Neb. 460, 6 N.W.2d 589 (1942).

Where the thread of the main channel of a river is the boundary line between two estates and it changes by the slow and natural processes of accretion and reliction, the boundary follows the channel. Monument Farms, Inc. v. Daggett, 2 Neb. App. 988, 520 N.W.2d 556 (1994); Ziemba v. Zeller, 165 Neb. 419, 86 N.W.2d 190 (1957).

See also Riparian Rights - Own to Thread of Stream, Riparian Rights Thread of Channel, and Definition - Thread of the Channel.