What is Meander Line

A meander line is part of the lines and boundaries that are established for surveying and mapping. Meander lines are run by surveyors for mapping and surveying purposes for a body of water. The lines are drawn around the lake or pond for the purpose of measuring property that abuts the water. Thus, they are usually irregular surveyed line around the outline of a body of water used to measure abutting property and do not act as an official boundary line. A meander line for surveying purposes represents the perimeter of a body of water.


Meander lines differ from boundary lines, which sometime extend to the center of the body of water. Meander lines usually form a zigzag traverse pattern to match the general boundary of the lake or pond.

Meander lines are used by the government to define the shore or bank of a body of water as well as know the quantity of land in the adjoining tracts of lands that are subject to sale by the government. In these cases, the water serves as the boundary and unless otherwise states, the meander line is not the legal boundary. Instead, it serves to identify the area of land that is not limited to the title of the land.

Example of meander lines

There are specific rules and regulations that define what a meander line can be. For example, a meander line is considered only applicable when lands where first surveyed; any islands or lands that arose after the land were first surveyed are not part of the meander line. All large streams, lakes, ponds, and bodies of water can be meandered, but National Parks, Indian Reserves, mineral claims and boundary lines cannot have a meander line. Shallow and intermittent streams lacking well-defined banks and streams, as well as unnavigable tidewater inlets are not meandered.

To determine a meander line, a surveyor must assess the line by defining the right banks as the right hand side when facing the stream of body of later, with the meander line determined at ordinary high water time from the right and left banks. So even though later, when the high water mark will change, the meander line will stay in the same location. In some cases, such as with erosion and natural land changes, such as turning rivers, a meander line can be set against the general course instead of being strictly defined.