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Swimming Holes Beat the Heat, But Think Before You Make One

There’s nothing worse than being outside in the city when it hits 90, let alone the triple digit temperatures that are forecast for this summer. Of course the best way to deal with the heat (besides driving to Maine) is to find one of the best swimming holes around the area.

What do you know, there’s actually a list of the 10 best swimming holes in Massachusetts, provided by Boston.com. These places to get wet are widely varied and span the entire state, giving you options for wide open water or secluded river spots.

Perhaps you have a place in the country and would like a swimming hole. But, if you are thinking of creating your very own beat the heat swimming hole, read on about your potential liabilities.

Generally, a landowner is not liable for damage to a downstream neighbor whose property is damaged by naturally flowing surface water. However, if a neighbor has changed their land to cause more water to flow onto another property, they could be liable for damage.

There are two main ways that courts decide if the damage was caused by the landowner's change to the landscape. One way is called the reasonable use rule, and maintains that if the upstream neighbor's change in the landscape was reasonable, then there is no liability. An example of a reasonable change is to avoid damage to a home.

The other way is the common enemy rule, which means that each landowner has the duty to protect their land from flowing water. It means that if an upstream neighbor changes the course of water, it is the downstream neighbor's duty to alter his land to deal with the change. Most states that follow this rule do require that the change be reasonable as well.

So what about your planned swimming hole? Based on the rules above, there wouldn't be a problem if you stopped water from flowing. However, if your dam construction was shoddy and it let a large amount of water flow into your neighbor's basement, then you will probably be on the hook.

Another issue that may come up is if your construction starts changing the direction of the stream or river that is also a boundary marker. The last thing you want is a boundary dispute with your neighbor.

Enjoy a refreshing dip at the best swimming holes this summer, and be sure that when you're thinking about your own swimming hole that it is well planned out because there's nothing hotter than swimming in a lawsuit.

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