Category Archives: Water Law

5th Circuit Rules for TCEQ in Whooping Crane Case

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision last week in Aransas Project v. Shaw, an important case involving claims that the TCEQ’s issuance of water rights permits violated the Endangered Species Act. Background In 2008 and 2009, 23 whooping cranes, which are considered endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act, allegedly died in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.  This information was based on a survey by biologists.  Only four carcasses were actually located. In 2010, The Aransas Project, and environmental group filed suit claiming that the birds’ deaths… Read More →

July 3, 2014 Weekly Round Up

Last week I was in Denton, Texas speaking at the Denton County Agricultural Law Program.  County Extension Agent Brandon Boughen put together a great program for participants that included Wayne Hayenga on estate planning and myself discussing water law and agricultural leases.  Thanks to Brandon for all of his hard work! It has been a very busy week for news related to agricultural law.  Major decisions were issued by the New York Court of Appeals regarding local agencies’ rights to prohibit oil and gas production (read blog here) and by… Read More →

June 20, 2014 Weekly Round Up

This has been a busy week!  On Monday evening, I was in Wheeler, Texas giving a presentation on estate and succession planning.  County Agent Dale Dunlap invited me to come and I was impressed with the great questions from the audience on these important issues. On Tuesday, I headed for Boston for the Universities Council on Water Resources Conference at Tufts, University.  I was fortunate to present on two panels at the conference.  On Tuesday, I spoke along with Dr. Ari Michelsen of Texas A&M and Dr. Brian Hurd… Read More →

Texas Appellate Court Rules No Accomodation Doctrine for Groundwater

Yesterday, the Amarillo Court of Appeals issued an important decision regarding Texas groundwater law.  In City of Lubbock v. Coyote Lake Ranch, LLC, the court considered whether the accommodation doctrine applies to groundwater under Texas law.  The court refused to extend the oil and gas law-based doctrine to groundwater, but indicated that this issue may be properly decided by the Texas Supreme Court or the Texas Legislature.  [Read opinion here.] Background In 1953, the owners of the land at issue conveyed the groundwater rights associated with such land to… Read More →

June 6, 2014 Weekly Round Up

*This article is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.* This week I was able to visit with the Taylor County Marketing Club about the current hot topics in agricultural law.  We talked about several pending Texas cases involving water law and oil and gas law, the GMO labeling debate going on across the nation, and the pending AQHA appeal in the cloning lawsuit.  They were a great group and I enjoyed the chance to chat with them about these important issues.  Thank you to Robert… Read More →

May 30, 2014 Weekly Round Up

*This article is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.* This week I made the trip to Lubbock, Texas to attend the 8th Annual John Huffaker Agricultural Law Course.  The program has been excellent and I’ve had the opportunity to meet with several ag law attorneys from across the state.  As a member of the planning committee, I know the work that goes into this program and want to thank directors David Waggoner and Trace Blair for allowing me to be a part of this event.  For… Read More →

Railroad Commission Sides with Oil Company Against Groundwater Conservation District

*This article is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.* Last week, the Texas Railroad Commission heard an important dispute regarding whether local groundwater conservation districts have the right to protest disposal well permits.  Background In order to drill a disposal well, a company must obtain a permit from the Railroad Commission of Texas.  Frequently, local Groundwater Conservation Districts challenge these permits, citing concerns about contamination of groundwater.  This is particularly true in the Eagle Ford Shale region, where some GCDs challenge every disposal well petition in their area seeking to… Read More →

May 23, 2014 Weekly Round Up

*This article is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.* Last week, I spoke to a large group of West Texas ranchers at the 5th Annual NRCS Rancher’s Workshop in Mertzon about key oil and gas and pipeline easement concepts for landowners.  It was a great program and I appreciate Jaime Tankersley inviting me to participate!  Here are some of the ag law stories in the news this week.  Welcome to those of you joining from that presentation. *  TCEQ Proposal Could Further Limit Water For Rice… Read More →

May 16, 2014 Weekly Round Up

Last week I spoke to a group of landowners at the Western Navarro Bobwhite Recovery Initiative Spring Meeting in Blooming Grove.  Blake Alldredge planned a great meeting at a wonderful location and I enjoyed the opportunity to attend.  On Tuesday, I was in Simonton to present on leasing issues at the Upper Gulf Coast Ranch Exposition.  I appreciate all of the hard work that Greg Kaase put in to get this program put together and enjoyed the chance to visit with the producers.  To those of you joining from these presentations,… Read More →

Public Right of Use for Texas Waterways

*This article is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.* Two weeks ago, I wrote about a New Mexico Attorney General opinion dealing with the right of the public to fish on streams running across private land in New Mexico.  Today, we will look at this issue under Texas law. The Question Does someone in Texas have the right to fish (or canoe, kayak, etc.) on a stream or other body of water flowing across private property? The Law Regarding Ownership of Streambeds The answer to this… Read More →