State Codes and Statutes

State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > Wisconsin > 88 > 88.90


88.90 Removal of obstructions from natural watercourses.


(1) Whenever any natural watercourse becomes obstructed so that the natural flow of water along the same is retarded by the negligent action of the owner, occupant or person in charge of the land on which the obstruction is located, the owner or occupant of any lands damaged by such obstruction may request the removal thereof by giving notice in writing to such owner, occupant or person in charge of the land on which the obstruction is located.


(2) If the obstruction is not removed within 6 days after receipt of such notice and if the obstruction is located in a village or town, the owner or occupant of the damaged lands may make complaint to the village or town board, filing at the same time a copy of the notice. The village trustees or town supervisors, after viewing the watercourse and upon being satisfied that the complaint is just, shall make recommendations in writing to the owner or occupant of the lands where the obstruction is located, for the removal of such obstruction. If such recommendations are not followed within a reasonable time, the village or town board shall order the obstruction removed. The cost of view and of removal shall be charged and assessed against the lands from which the obstruction was removed and shall be collected as other special assessments are collected.


(3) Whenever any natural watercourse becomes obstructed through natural causes, the owner or occupant of any lands damaged by the effect which the obstruction has upon the flow of the water may go upon the land where the obstruction is located and remove it at that person's own expense. Such person is not guilty of trespass for entry upon the land but is liable for damage caused to crops or structures. The rights and privileges conferred by this subsection also extend to the agents or employees of the person causing the obstruction to be removed.


(4) This section does not in any manner limit the scope of s. 88.87.

88.90 - ANNOT.

History: 1991 a. 316; 1995 a. 315.

88.90 - ANNOT.

Before proceeding under sub. (3), a permit to remove materials from the bed of a navigable waterway under s. 30.20 is required. State v. Dwyer, 91 Wis. 2d 440, 283 N.W.2d 448 (Ct. App. 1979).

88.90 - ANNOT.

If a municipality charges and assesses costs authorized under this section, it may collect them in the same manner it collects special assessments under s. 66.0703. However, if the municipality charges and assesses those costs under the authority granted under this section, it need not comply with the requirements for special assessments contained in s. 66.0703. Neither the cost of viewing and removal under sub. (2) and the cost of service to the property under s. 66.0703 includes the cost of legal services incurred by the municipality in defending against challenges to the removal of materials from a ditch. Robinson v. Town of Bristol, 2003 WI App 97, 264 Wis. 2d 318, 667 N.W.2d 14, 02-1247.