Friday, April 30, 2010
Groundwater as a Private Right
With a case now in the Texas Supreme Court (Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Day) the issue of who owns the water is expected to get more court direction when the ruling is released. Mr. Day (who has incidently passed away) argues that the Edwards Aquifer Authority can't restrict him from using groundwater from under his land, while EAA argues that they have the right to manage the groundwater and his diversion will overtax the supply.
I ran across a set of statements made by a Texas Association which I find interesting. This group is asking the Texas Legislature (presumably anticipating a court decision to the contrary) to clearly make groundwater a private landowner right. The statements are:
“Private landowner ownership of groundwater encourages good stewardship and promotes accountability.”
"Private ownership provides more certainty and balance in water planning for the future.”
“As the demand for groundwater in Texas increases, it is important that groundwater continues to be recognized and reaffirmed as vested, real property of private landowners.”
“... supports reasonable regulation of groundwater so private landowners are treated fairly and afforded due process, property rights are respected, and all private landowners maintain the ability to use groundwater for any beneficial use."
Inquiring minds are likely to wonder how unrestricted access to water by all landowners can provide more certainty in water planning, better accountability, and at the same time respect all property rights.
While this case is expected to make or break local groundwater management authority in Texas, I halfway expect the court to render a ruling that continues to leave wiggle room on each side of the issue. This is the way Texans roll!