Maine Revised Statutes

§404. Ground water rights

1. Definitions.  As used in this section, unless the context indicates otherwise, the following terms have the following meanings.
A. "Beneficial domestic use" means any ground water used for household purposes essential to health and safety, whether provided by individual wells or through public supply systems. [1987, c. 491, §4 (NEW).]
B. "Ground water" means all the waters found beneath the surface of the earth. [1987, c. 491, §4 (NEW).]
C. "Preexisting use" means any use which was undertaken by a public water supplier, a landowner or lawful land occupant or a predecessor in interest of either of them, at any time during the period of 3 years prior to the commencement of the use which resulted in the interference. [1987, c. 491, §4 (NEW).]
[ 1987, c. 491, §4 (NEW) .]
2. Cause of action created.  Subject to the limitations of subsection 3 and except as provided by Title 23, section 652, a person is liable for the withdrawal of ground water, including use of ground water in heat pump systems, when the withdrawal is in excess of beneficial domestic use for a single-family home and when the withdrawal causes interference with the preexisting beneficial domestic use of ground water by a landowner or lawful land occupant.
[ 1987, c. 491, §4 (NEW) .]
3. Limitations.  The liability imposed under subsection 2 shall be in compensatory damages only, to be recovered in an action brought by the landowner or other lawful land occupant whose ground water use has been interfered with, against the person whose subsequent use has caused the interference.
A. The damages shall be limited to the following:
(1) All costs necessary to restore the landowner or lawful land occupant to a status which is reasonably equivalent in terms of quantity and quality of ground water, made available on a similarly accessible and economic basis;
(2) Compensatory damages for loss or damage to property, including, without limitation, the loss of habitability of residence, caused to the landowner or lawful land occupant by reason of the interference, prior to restoration of the status provided for in subparagraph (1); and
(3) Reasonable costs, including expert witness and attorney fees, incurred in initiating and prosecuting an action when necessary to secure a judgment granting the relief provided for under this chapter. [1987, c. 491, §4 (NEW).]
B. The rights afforded by this chapter shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, any other rights, whether arising under statute or common law, which any person may have to seek redress against any other person for ground water interference or contamination. [1987, c. 491, §4 (NEW).]
[ 1987, c. 491, §4 (NEW) .]
1987, c. 491, §4 (NEW).