Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 62.1. Waters of the State, Ports and Harbors
Chapter 2. State Policy As to Waters
12/5/2021

Chapter 2. State Policy As to Waters.

§ 62.1-10. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them:

(a) "Water" includes all waters, on the surface and under the ground, wholly or partially within or bordering the Commonwealth or within its jurisdiction and which affect the public welfare.

(b) "Beneficial use" means both instream and offstream uses. Instream beneficial uses include, but are not limited to, the protection of fish and wildlife habitat, maintenance of waste assimilation, recreation, navigation, and cultural and aesthetic values. Offstream beneficial uses include, but are not limited to, domestic (including public water supply), agricultural, electric power generation, commercial and industrial uses. Public water supply uses for human consumption shall be considered the highest priority.

Code 1950, § 62-9.1; 1954, c. 330; 1958, c. 413; 1968, c. 659; 1989, c. 410.

§ 62.1-11. Waters declared natural resource; state regulation and conservation; limitations upon right to use.

A. Such waters are a natural resource which should be regulated by the Commonwealth.

B. The regulation, control, development and use of waters for all purposes beneficial to the public are within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth which in the exercise of its police powers may establish measures to effectuate the proper and comprehensive utilization and protection of such waters.

C. The changing wants and needs of the people of the Commonwealth may require the water resources of the Commonwealth to be put to uses beneficial to the public to the extent of which they are reasonably capable; the waste or unreasonable use or unreasonable method of use of water should be prevented; and the conservation of such water is to be exercised with a view to the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth and their interest in the reasonable and beneficial use thereof.

D. The public welfare and interest of the people of the Commonwealth require the proper development, wise use, conservation and protection of water resources together with protection of land resources, as affected thereby.

E. The right to the use of water or to the flow of water in or from any natural stream, lake or other watercourse in this Commonwealth is and shall be limited to such water as may reasonably be required for the beneficial use of the public to be served; such right shall not extend to the waste or unreasonable use or unreasonable method of use of such water.

F. The quality of state waters is affected by the quantity of water and it is the intent of the Commonwealth, to the extent practicable, to maintain flow conditions to protect instream beneficial uses and public water supplies for human consumption.

Code 1950, § 62-9.2; 1954, c. 330; 1968, c. 659; 1989, c. 410.

§ 62.1-12. Valid uses not affected; chapter not applicable to proceedings determining rights.

Nothing in this chapter shall operate to affect any existing valid use of such waters or interfere with such uses hereafter acquired, nor shall it be construed as applying to the determination of rights in any proceeding now pending or hereafter instituted.

Code 1950, § 62-9.3; 1954, c. 330; 1968, c. 659.

§ 62.1-13. Construction with reference to rights, etc., of counties, cities and towns.

Nothing in this chapter contained shall be construed as a declaration of policy of the Commonwealth to divest any county, city or town of its title or right to any water or of its powers conferred by law with respect to the disposition thereof; nor shall anything in this chapter be construed to authorize the impairment of any contract to which such county, city or town is a party, or to obligate any county, city or town to appropriate or expend any funds. The purpose of this chapter is to recognize the public use to which such water is devoted.

Code 1950, § 62-9.4; 1954, c. 330; 1968, c. 659.