If you have suffered water intrusion into your home, garage, or property in San Antonio, Texas, your neighbor may be financially responsible for your damages. Many states follow the “common enemy” doctrine which states that surface water is the common enemy of every property owner. Union v. Durkes, 38 N.J.L. 21, 22 (1875). The common enemy doctrine embraces the idea that because water is a common enemy, surface water may diverted at the land owner’s discretion, though the diversion may injure an adjacent land owner. Miller v. Letzerich, 121 Tex. 248, 258, 49 S.W.2d 404, 409 (1932). However, Texas is different. Texas has modified the doctrine by holding landowners responsible for damage to neighboring property due to diversion of surface water.
Section 11.086 of the Texas Water Code provides that:
(a) No person may divert or impound the natural flow of surface waters in this state, or permit a diversion or impounding by him to continue, in a manner that damages the property of another by the overflow of the water diverted or impounded.
(b) A person whose property is injured by an overflow of water caused by an unlawful diversion or impounding has remedies at law and in equity and may recover damages occasioned by the overflow.
Tex. Water Code Ann. § 11.086 (West 2017).
This means that if you have suffered a flooded home, garage, or backyard in San Antonio as a result of your neighbor’s landscaping, or modification of his yard, he may be financially responsible for your ruined carpet, sheet rock or other damages. You can sue him to recover money for the damage to your property. With all of the recent flooding and rainfall in San Antonio and South Texas, you may have run into this problem. If you have, the lawyers at our firm can help.