Yes Gilligan, You are Entitled to Accretion and Reliction

Do you own an island?

If so, you should know that you own the additional portion of your island created by the gradual and imperceptible accumulation of land by natural causes (“accretion” or “alluvium”), as well as that portion of your island created by the permanent lowering of the water level (“reliction”).

These same rules may also apply to more common situations, such as landowners who own property that adjoins a lake, pond, river or stream. The exact rules depend on what the landowner’s deed says and whether the body of water is “navigable.”

Although Pennsylvania cases are few and far between on these issues, we have run across situations, where establishing ownership of the expansion areas is important for zoning, title and land sale purposes. In some cases, a quiet title action (where the actual owner is in possession) or an action in ejectment (where someone else has set themselves up on the area), is necessary to establish the owner’s title to physical possession of the created land.

If you have any boundary questions, water related or otherwise, that you would like to discuss, please do not hesitate to call.

— Rod Fluck

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