Correlative Rights Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Correlative Rights Doctrine is a legal principle that states that adjoining landowners must limit their use of a common water source to a reasonable amount. This is based on the amount of land owned by each on the surface above.

Under California doctrine of correlative rights, if the ground water supply is inadequate to meet the needs of all users, each user can be judicially required to proportionally reduce use until the overdraft is ended. The policy significance of correlative rights is that each well owner is treated as having an equal right to ground water regardless of when first use was initiated.

The correlative rights doctrine is part of the ground water jurisprudence of many states in U.S.

This principle is also used in relation to Oil & gas. Here it refers to rule whereby a lessee's or landowner's right to capture oil and gas from the property is restricted by the duty to exercise that right without waste or negligence. This is a corollary to the rule of capture.