The common law has traditionally provided the rules that govern relationships among landowners in their use of watercourses. These rules are embodied in the eastern United States in the doctrine of riparian rights, which addresses itself both to water quantity, and to water quality. Persons complaining of pollution of waters abutting their lands have, in addition to redress by complaint to the state pollution control agency, redress by lawsuit against the alleged polluter. This common law supplements the body of statutory law regulating the waters of the state for the benefit of the people.
Peter N. Davis, Theories of Water Pollution Litigation, 1971 Wis. L. Rev. 738 (1971)