Three Words Lakefront Property Owners Should Know

If you are a lakefront property owner, here are three words that you should know if you are concerned about managing the lakeweeds on your shoreline. If you are trying to kill lake weeds by using a LakeMat or aquatic herbicides, it is important that you understand the following three terms.

Benthic (ben-thick)

Defined as “Relating to the bottom of a sea or lake or to the organisms that live there.” It’s commonly used interchangeably with “lake bottom.” More specifically, it’s most often used to refer to the lake bottom near shore, where most plants, fish and wildlife are concentrated.

Most life, plant and animal, is concentrated in about 20 percent of a lake, usually the shallowest area nearest the shore. This is area generally referred to as the “benthic area.” Oddly enough, the old 80/20 rule applies: 80 percent of the living organisms are concentrated in 20 percent of the body of water.

Littoral (lit-or-el)

Defined as “Relating to inhabiting the shore of a sea or lake or the shallow waters near the shore.” Littoral property borders a body of water that is “at rest” such as a lake or pond.

If you own such property you are said to have “littoral rights.” If you own littoral property you actually own the pie-shaped section of lake bottom to a theoretical point in the center of your lake, though you don’t own the water.

So, because you don’t own the water in front of your property you can’t prevent someone from using the water, but theoretically you could prevent them from dropping an anchor on your lake bottom! (Yes, this would be stupid).

Riparian (rip-air-in)

Defined as “Of, on, or relating to the banks of a natural course of water.” Riparian property borders water that is “moving” such as a river or stream.

If you own such a property you are said to own “riparian rights.” Usually, this means you own to the water’s edge, but have rights to install structures such as docks so long as they don’t interfere with other riparian property owners downstream.

Although “littoral” and “riparian” have different meanings, the term riparian is often misused to collectively include lake, pond and ocean front property. Though this usage isn’t correct, it’s very common.