Springs of water have been o ved or mentioned in some cases 358/,
but the Court does not appear to have decided what legal principles should
be applied to their use. 'It-would seem, however, that if a spring is shown
to emanate from a definite underground stream and form a natural watercourse,
the same general rules of law might apply to its use, particularly its con-
sumptive use, whether it is tapped before, at, or after the point where it
emerges naturally from the earth, (See Definite Underground Streams,
But if a spring emanates from percolating groundwaters, such as at the
foot of a hill, the legal principles applicable to percolating groundwaters,
discussed above, might apply with respect to any liability for tapping and
removing the waters which supply the spring rather than removing water at
the point where the spring emerges or along the stream which leads from it.
In one case the Court said that a natural watercourse was well defined
in Angell on Watercourses (7th Ed.) sec. 4. 360/ This states, in sec. 4b,
that, except where a natural watercourse arises from a definite underground
stream, a "stream begins at its source, when it comes from the surface; and
3/ Andrews v. Andrews, 242 N.C. 382, 88;SE., 2d. 88 (1955), discussed
under Definite Underground Streams, ante.; Rhyne v. Flint Mfg. Co., 182 N.C.
489, 109 S.E. 376 (1921), discussed under Interrelationships Among Natural
Water Sources, post.; Rouse v. Kinston, 188 N.C. 1, 123 S.Z. 482, 493'(1924),
also discussed under Interrelationships, etc.; Foreman v. Hough, 98 ,.C. 386,
3 S.E, 912 (1837), discussed under Contractual Arrangements, post.; Wagner
v. Town of Conover, 200 N.C. 82, 156 S.E. 167, 168 (1930) relating to "a
spring in the bank of the creek, gone after the construction and maintenance
of the sewer disposal into the stream"; Brown v. W. T. Weaver Power Co.,
140 N.C. 333, 52 S.E. 954, 955 (1905), and Freedle v. N.C.R.R. Co., 49 N.C.
89, 92 (1956), discussed under Condemnation and Related Proceedings, post.
Also see .C.G.S. sec. 130-126 concerning pollution of a "well, spring, or
cistern," discussed under Pollution, post.
359/ But recall'the possibility of a presumption that groundwaters are
360/ Mizell v. McGowan, 120 N.C. 13h, 126 S.E. 783, 784 (1897).
owners of lands adjoining upon it have a natural right to the use of the
water of it from its source to its termination.", He noted that in an
English case where water from a spring flowed in "a gully or natural chan-
nel" to a stream on which was a mill, the landowner at the source was held
liable for cutting the spring off at its source and diverting it into a
If a spring does not immediately form a natural watercourse, but the
emerging waters instead flow vagrantly or perhaps only occasionally from
the point where the spring emerges, (see Definition of Natural Watercourse,
aante) the rules relating to "surface waters" (discussed below) might pos-
sibly apply to its use at or after its point of emergence (and prior to
some point where the eventually reach a natural watercourse).
Most of the State's reported court decisions relating to so-called
"surface waters" have dealt with the problem of getting rid of, rather than
utilizing, such waters
Some of the distinctions between "surface waters" and waters in a
.natural watercourse were discussed under Definition of Na1tural Watercourse,
ante.. In one case concerning the draining of a swamp it was contended by
one of the parties that the term "surface water" includes not only the water
which falls on lands as rain but also all waters which overflow or seep
through the banks :of a watercourse. The Court, however, did not expressly
consider the question, 362/ In the neighboring states of South Carolina and
3.i/ There ordinarily would not seem to be such liability, however, if the
watercourse created by the spring naturally terminates on one's own land,
particularly if it does not empty into or form an underground stream which
leads from one's land.
362/ Williamson v. Locks Creek Canal Company, 78 N.C. 156, 159 (1878);
other opinions, in same case in 76 N.C 1478 and 81 N.C. 629,