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Groundwater Tag

Texas’ Courts Legal Treatment of Groundwater is Fluid

Groundwater rights have been hotly debated in Texas for as long as there has been the ability to pump it. Unlike surface water, which is owned by the state and held in trust for the public, Texas courts have ruled that groundwater is the surface owner’s vested private property. This vested right can be regulated by Groundwater Conservation Districts (GCD). But not all regions have GCDs and their regulatory approaches can vary greatly even if they are present, so the primary legal rule governing groundwater pumping is the Rule of Capture. This rule was adopted by the Texas Supreme Court as the governing principle of groundwater law over a century ago. The Court did...

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Vista Ridge Project Creates More Questions Than Answers

UPDATE: My  statement from the public hearing can be read here. This blog was written with the assistance of Tyson Broad with the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club For those who are keeping track, we are in year 4 of a statewide drought. Although some areas have received rainfall relief, the continuing drought has led many communities to ponder whether they have enough water for their future and, if not, where more water can be procured. Unfortunately, new water isn’t something that can easily be bought or delivered. It’s expensive, the infrastructure is lacking and the locals often don’t want it exported away from their region. Last spring, we posted a piece about a...

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Let’s Talk About Turf

Now that we have survived another hot, dry summer and are firmly in the fall season, it is time to turn off the irrigation systems and take a moment to think about lawns. Outdoor water use can be a significant part of a household’s total water use, especially if the home has an irrigation system.  Homes with irrigation systems can use 50% to 100% more water on average than homes where someone manually irrigates with a hose and/or sprinkler. What Cities Can Do A new study from the Texas Water Resources Institute at Texas A&M shows that 46.6% of municipal water use is for “urban irrigation”, defined as lawns and golf courses.  This amounts to 2.262...

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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...

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Texas Courts Start to Fill in the Blanks on Groundwater Law

About eighteen months ago, the Texas Supreme Court issued a historic ruling on groundwater law.  In Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) v. Day, the Day family and others sued the EAA claiming that the EAA’s regulation of the aquifer, which limited the landowner’s right to pump groundwater, violated their constitutional rights because the landowner owns the water under their property.  The court ruled in Day’s favor; however, the decision was as striking for what it didn’t say as for what it did.  While the court held that ownership of groundwater is a property right attached to surface ownership, the Court also held that regulation of the resource is permissible.  Questions remained as to how...

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