Private water body: what regulation?

Buying a body of water can be useful for producing fish, irrigating crops, watering livestock or fighting the fire. But it can also allow to practice a leisure like fishing or hunting.

What is a body of water?

It is the surface of the property purchased, sold or rented that qualifies it as a body of water or pond.

  • Less than 1,000 m² the water will rather be described as "fed up", and therefore subject to any particular regulation.
  • If the property has a water surface of more than 1,000 m², we are in the presence of a pond likely to fall under one of the categories provided by law; it is important to know when it was created. Indeed, the law on water of January 3, 1992 marked a profound change in the legislation.

But water bodies are complex works, which may come under several regulations: law on water, fishing, town planning, the environment, or even the Civil Code. Also, such an acquisition deserves to be thought about. It is important that the parties and their notary ask themselves a certain number of questions in order to avoid some disappointments: what surface, when was it created, what is its legal status, its mode of supply, its equipment... ?

According to the answers, the applicable regulations will be more or less dense, more or less complex; in extreme cases, the competent authority may even go so far as to request the abolition of the water body that is not up to standard.

Body of water: maintenance and draining


Once the acquisition of the water plan has been completed, attention remains the order of the day. Indeed, every owner must

  • maintain his property (manage the vegetation on the dike and the banks,
  • ensure good conditions of safety for people and works...),
  • regularly check the proper functioning of the works (drain system, state of the grids with fish...),
  • to make the modifications possibly necessary (setting up a diversion for example when the pond is on watercourse) after opinion favorable of the competent authority,
  • to do regular draining (by respecting the periods, the frequency, the protection of the environment, the management of the sediments...)
  • and to take advantage of it to inspect more thoroughly the body of water and its infrastructures.


The draining should be done every 2 to 5 years, when the hydrological conditions are optimal and by informing the competent services at least 15 days before.

The Civil Code specifies that we must not drain or flood properties downstream. The Environmental Code adds that must be respected, at the exit of any work on a watercourse, a minimum flow called "reserved flow" (10% of the average flow of the watercourse). Just as the owner will have to control the species present, especially vegetal by avoiding or fighting against the propagation of those called invasive (eg Jussie).

Frequently asked questions