Legal Corner: What can I do about new neighboring houses whose land will eventually drain onto mine?

Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 4:59 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Legal Corner answers viewers’ civil legal questions.

QUESTION: I am surrounded by new businesses and new houses that seem to be bringing in a lot of dirt. What can I do, since eventually their land will drain onto mine if built up high enough?

ANSWER: Articles 655 and 656 of the Louisiana Civil Code are on point.

655: “An estate situated below is bound to receive the surface waters that flow naturally from an estate situated above unless an act of man has created the flow.”

656: “The owner of the servient estate may not do anything to prevent the flow of the water. The owner of the dominant estate may not do anything to render the servitude more burdensome.”

Put another way, a landowner, over whose land natural drainage occurs, has to live with it. Water from the high ground drains onto low ground, the owner of the low ground cannot challenge, divert or disrupt the drainage. However, since the law is clear that natural drainage cannot be tampered with, it is implied that unnatural, or man-made (such as when soil is brought in to build up the land, as in the viewer’s case), drainage does not have to be accepted by the neighboring landowner. So, it would be in the viewer’s best interest to document the situation– starting with written communication with owner of the business of at least the company doing the construction, as well as taking pictures of the dirt being brought it. That way if your drainage situation turns for the worse, you will have the proof of what caused it.

QUESTION: I am a guide for a duck hunting camp, and just to make sure all my sports are in compliance, are military members exempt from having to buy a hunting license? What about duck stamps?

ANSWER: Everyone who hunts waterfowl has to purchase a federal duck stamp, even those exempt from having to buy a hunting license, except anyone under the age of 16. No, military members are not exempt from buying licenses and stamps. However, there are a different set of rules for active and nonactive military – for example, an active duty soldier can purchase a Louisiana hunting license as if they were a resident, AND there are different fees for military personnel. If you go on the Wildlife and Fisheries website,, you can review the fees and privileges – which include (1) currently active military, (2) Louisiana National Guard and/or any reserve armed forces members in Louisiana, (3) retired military and even (4) surviving spouse privileges.

Note: if you are at the DMV, you can buy a lifetime hunting license, lifetime fishing license, or a combination lifetime.