The public's right to use California waterways is guaranteed by the United States and California Constitutions and affirmed by California Legislative Codes.  Both Federal and California case law further define and affirm these rights.

United States Constitution
Freedom of navigation and the public's right to use rivers are guaranteed by the Commerce Clause.  The congressional Act admitting States to the Union requires that "all the navigable waters within said State shall be common highways and forever free."

California State Constitution, Article 10, Section 4
Forbids individual, joint and corporate landowners from obstructing free navigation.  It provides that "the Legislature shall enact such law as will give the most liberal construction to this provision, so that access to the navigable waters of this State shall be always attainable for the people thereof."  It also forbids landowners "to exclude the right of way to [navigable] water whenever it is required for any public purpose."

The above information is a small part of a larger document citing various laws and regulations which ensure our rights to travel on public waterways. Download the following documents for more clarification:

Citizens' Rights To California Waterway Use (WWCC Law Summary 4-10-12)

California Law Relating To The Public's Right To Use Rivers For Recreational Use

For additional information on river access law, settling on-river conflicts, and your rights, check out the information on:

National Organization for Rivers (NOR).



Top Ten Development Tips to Protect Creeks
created by the Santa Clara Valley Urban Runoff Pollution Prevention Program