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Considerations of public interest also have been included in certain
special and local laws, regulations promulgated by certain agencies, and in
various decisions of the State Supreme Court, most frequently in instances
in which the Court has interpreted the meaning and effect of particular
legislation. This has been particularly noticeable in the handling of cases
relating to such things as milldams and drainage. The Supreme Court (here-
inafter called "the Court") has noted that early milldam and drainage statutes
were born of necessity, in order to develop the flat eastern lowlands of the
State. V/ (See Draibage, and Condemnation and Related Proceedings, post.)
Types of Water Sources
Different legal principles have been applied to different types of
natural water sources, notwithstanding that they may be all more or less
interrelated. These include such broad categories as surface watercourses,
underground streams, percolating groundwaters, and diffused surface waters.
There are also various types of artificial watercourses and other artificially
developed waters, such as waters in constructed ponds or in reservoirs or
lakes created by damming a natural watercourse.
The legal definition of, and distinctions between, the different water
sources, and the legal principles, statutory laws, and regulations that
have been applied to each type of water source, are discussed below.
SIn an early case, a natural watercourse was defined by the Court as
S follows: "A watercourse consists of bed, banks, and water. A natural
5/ Mizell v. McGowan, 120 N.C. 134, 26 S.E. 783 (1897); later decisions
in same case in 125 N.C. 439, 34 S.E. 538; 129 N.C. 93, 39 S.E. 729.