Bulletin: WA000039

Date:
July 01, 1999
To:
All Washington State Offices and Agents
RE:
Water Rights Exception

Dear Associates:

Is the standard exception "Water rights, claims or title to water or matters relating thereto" sufficient when the commitment is written on a parcel of land that abuts a body of water (be it a river, lake, stream or salt water)?

No. The above-referenced exception has nothing to do with rights of navigability, rights of the public or riparian owners to use water that may cover the land, shifting or change in the course of a creek, stream, etc., or beds of navigable waters. The standard exception refers to ownership of water and water rights that are regulated by the Department of Ecology.

Note: Most Title Plants in this State do not contain Certificate of Water Rights documents as they have been thrown away and never posted. There is no way to underwrite the removal of this exception from policy coverage and it should always remain.

Underwriting Manual
22.00.7
Water Rights

In some western states, the right to take water from bodies of water (regardless of their location) for the purposes of irrigation, mining, stock feeding, or any other purpose, may become of extraordinary necessity and of considerable value. "Water rights" legislation is extremely complex, controversial, and its application to areas or situation in dispute does originate lengthy and expensive litigation.

Because of this, no title insurance policy is to be issued which insures any right of appropriation of waters ("water rights") from any body of water, regardless of whether the water crosses, or is located on the property, or is located on any other land.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
WA000029 Inner Harbor Lines
Underwriting Manual:
22.00 Waters
Exceptions Manual:
WA Wetlands
Forms:
None