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More Information on Texas Groundwater Law

Yesterday, I was invited to be on Texas Public Radio’s show, The Source to discuss the recent Bragg v. EAA court decision and the status of groundwater law in Texas.  Attempting to explain groundwater rules in short concise sound bites reminded me how complicated groundwater’s legal history is and how unsustainable it can seem.  The show’s host, David Martin Davies commented that one of the challenges to water and water law is that so few people understand it or notice these new court decisions.  I have to agree.  It’s no one’s fault – it’s just so confusing!! I have been working with water law for about ten years and I am still learning about the history of how we got here.   So, I thought I would provide the radio interview for folks who want to learn a little more.  Along with myself, a West Texas farmer was on the show expressing landowners’ well-founded concerns.

One last thought that we didn’t get to on the show – people often cringe at the idea of regulation, particularly if it is perceived to be an infringement of private property rights.  I understand those concerns, but I would like to point out there is a cost of doing nothing.  A cost, I would argue, that is far higher than trying to reduce groundwater pumping now in an effort to ensure water for all users in the future.  Often we hear the choice being presented as regulation versus pump all you want.  This is a false choice.  For every property owner who wants to pump all they want, there is a neighboring property owner who wants to maintain their land and needs water available below their property to do so.  We have an obligation to all of these people.  No one has any bigger right than anyone else, so we must find a compromise where no one gets everything and everyone gets something.

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