Texas Supreme Court: Accommodation Doctrine Applies to Groundwater
Texas Agriculture Law Blog: Agrilife.org
In an important decision that could have far-reaching impacts, the Texas Supreme Court sided with the Coyote Lake Ranch, holding that the accommodation doctrine does apply to groundwater in Texas.
This case is extremely important for Texas landowners and groundwater owners. For the first time, the Texas Supreme Court announced that the accommodation doctrine, previously applied only in oil and gas severances, will apply in groundwater severances as well.
LandOwner Newsletter Vol 37 Issue 9 May 12, 2016
Texas Real Estate Attorney Hammers WOTUS Reg
A court stay is the only wall standing between landowner property rights and a federal takeover of most of the nation’s land, says Judon Fambrough, an attorney with the Teal Estate Center at Texas A & M University. The result of the waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulation enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) means “the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction now extends well beyond the navigable waters of the U.S. to practically all waters if implemented,” says Fambrough.
“If implemented, it would freeze all land use in place at the time of the implementation. That means if you want to make any sort of change in the way you use your land, you will need to file for a permit with the EPA and Corps, which is estimated to take up to three years and cost $250,000 to obtain,” he explains. “If you don’t obtain a permit, you are subject to a fine of $37,500 per day until land is returned to its original use.” READ article
Nationwide analysis shows depletion of groundwater widespread and worsening. Read the entire story written by Ian James and Steve Reilly | Desert Sun | December 10, 2015.
Waters of the US Rule Put on Hold
A federal appeals court on Friday morning said that the U.S. government could not begin implementing the controversial “Waters of the U.S.” rule that governs what waterways are subject to federal Clean Water Act permits and which waterways are not. READ MORE FROM AgWeb.com
Thornberry Introduces Bill to Rein in EPA Overreach
Regarding the EPA’s efforts to expand their control of all water, and therefore having more control over private land water, US Congressman Mac Thornberry has proposed a Bill that would better define navigable waters and help protect private land owners from the EPA overreach. See his press release here…
USFS Backs Away From Groundwater Grab….Western Livestock Journal…April 17, 2015…By Theodora Dowling, WLJ Correspondent. Western ranchers are taking a victory lap after the U. S. Forest Service (USFS) Deputy Chief Leslie Weldon announced last Tuesday that the agency is “not moving forward” with a proposal to impose unprecedented regulations on water on and near USFS land. See complete article here.
Board Rejects TCEQ Order For Briscoe County Annexation. During their March 13 regular meeting, the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) Board of Directors unanimously rejected an order from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) recommending annexation of the western portion of Briscoe County into the district. The five-member board made its decision after receiving comments at a public hearing earlier in the day. “We believe in local control. The Board of Directors listened to Briscoe County residents and honored their wishes not to be annexed into the water conservation district,” said HPWD President Lynn Tate of Amarillo. TCEQ designated the Briscoe, Hale, and Swisher County Priority Groundwater Management Area (PGMA) in 1990. Since then, the portions of Hale and Swisher Counties in the PGMA were added to the HPWD. The western portion of Briscoe County is the only remaining portion of the PGMA not within a groundwater conservation district. As a result, residents in the area had the option of creating their own district or joining the HPWD as recommended by the TCEQ. Several landowners believe that the TCEQ’s recommendation would lead to unnecessary government oversight and could threaten private property rights. In other business, the HPWD Board of Directors approved proposed amendments to HPWD Water Well Registration Rule 4.1(e) and 4.2 (b). The amendments take effect immediately. The revision deletes the word, “shall,” in Well Registration Rule 4.1 (e) and replaces it with the word, “may.” In addition, the existing sentence in Well Registration Rule 4.2 (b) was deleted and replaced with “A new well exempt from permitting may be registered with the district.” Tate said these rule amendments are another step in the right direction to protect private property rights. “Landowners now have the option to register their wells in order to receive protection under the district’s water well spacing requirements. The HPWD Board of Directors is committed to protecting landowners’ private property rights,” he said. (Press release from High Plains Underground Water Conservation District)
Water Rights Battle in Bailey County, Texas heats up as this issue goes to the Texas Supreme Court. Here is the story on myhighplains.com
Click here to view the HPWD Press Release.