Waterfront Property and Wetlands

Federal Navigational Servitude

The Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government the exclusive power to regulate interstate and foreign commerce, which gives the federal government the authority over all navigable waters of the United States. This right is paramount to all other interests, including the rights a state or individual may have in the land. This federal navigational servitude exists over all lands presently or formerly flowed by the navigable waters of the United States. The exercise of this paramount right may result in a taking of property without compensation being paid. The navigational servitude would affect filled-in lands that may now be dry but were previously under the waters of a navigable waterway. This places such land at the risk of some day being cleared, having the fill removed, and being returned to its former wet state. It also affects all piers and bulkheads on navigable waters.