I am considering building a pond on my property. What are the liability issues I should be aware of?

Legal liability for accidents occurring on a pond owner’s property is a very real concern. Although legal views vary somewhat in different regions, most cases involving pond-related accidents deal with children or adolescents wandering unto property and injuring themselves or drowning. Key considerations in these cases often relate to whether the pond could be considered an attractive nuisance, such that the pond in question would have some artificial or otherwise special feature which made it especially dangerous, or if the danger was hidden. Another point to be considered is the age of the victim(s) and whether they could be considered sufficiently responsible for their own actions. It is always wise to visit with insurance and legal professionals prior to building or acquiring a pond to be sure liability considerations are addressed before accidents can ever occur. Another possible source of liability for pond owners is runoff. Any obstruction of, or change of, natural drainage that affects neighboring property is a source of possible liability. If any trash or chemicals get into public waters because of the runoff, then the pond owner could also be subject to direct fines by state or federal agencies. For this reason, all drainage should be planned and controlled. It is a good idea to visit with the local office of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for assistance in assessing drainage issues.