Beneficial Use Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Beneficial Use, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Beneficial Use?

(n) Beneficial use is the right to utilize the benefits from a property without having the ownership right on the property and without any attached responsibility for cost, damages maintenance etc incidental to such property.

History and Meaning of Beneficial Use

Beneficial use is a legal term that refers to utilizing property or resources in a way that is productive or advantageous without necessarily owning it. The concept of beneficial use dates back to common law, and it has been refined through various statutes over time. The origins of the concept of beneficial use can be traced back to English common law, where it first arose as a doctrine of water rights. In the United States, this concept was eventually adopted and expanded upon in various statutory laws and codes.

Beneficial use is most commonly associated with water rights, but it can apply to other types of property as well. The key principle behind beneficial use is that individuals or entities may be granted the right to use a property, natural resource, or other asset for a specific purpose without owning it outright, as long as they are able to put the asset to productive use and without causing any harm to the asset.

Examples of Beneficial Use

  1. A company leases a piece of land to build a solar farm and generate electricity. The company does not own the land, but it is able to make productive use of it for the intended purpose of generating renewable energy.
  2. A farmer uses a portion of a river to irrigate their crops. The farmer does not own the water in the river, but they have the right to make beneficial use of it for agricultural purposes.
  3. A municipality grants a franchise to a company to operate a public utility, such as a water treatment plant. The company does not own the city's water supply, but it is able to put it to beneficial use by providing clean water to residents.

Legal Terms Similar to Beneficial Use

  1. Riparian rights: The legal right of an owner of land along a river or other watercourse to use and enjoy the water flowing past the land.
  2. Easement: A legal right to use someone else's land for a specific purpose, such as accessing a public road or utility.
  3. Right of way: The legal right to travel over someone else's land, usually for transportation purposes.