Category Archives: Water Law

July 18, 2014 Weekly Round Up

This week we have an interesting mix of ag law in the news. *Augustin Plains Ranch LLC Files Another Water Use Application in New Mexico.  Augustin Plains Ranch LLC has filed another application to drill 37 wells and pipe 17 million gallons of water per year from rural western New Mexico to the Bernalillo County.  A similar proposal was rejected by the State Engineer in 2012 finding it too broad and too vague.  Numerous ranchers, landowners, environmental groups, and irrigation districts opposed the application in 2012–one of the most contested applications in New Mexico history–fearing… Read More →

July 11, 2014 Weekly Round Up

Yesterday, I had the great opportunity to speak at the American Quarter Horse Association’s Youth Excellence Seminar here in College Station.  It does not seem like that long ago I was going to these type of conferences as a 4-H and FFA member!  I hate to pick favorites, but I’ll admit that was the most fun presentation that I’ve given.  The kids asked great questions, had thoughtful debates, and were extremely interested in the ag law issues raised.  Looking at the 40 young people in that room, I’d say our future is in… Read More →

Texas Water Law in the National News

This week, Texas water law has been prominently in the national news.   NBC published a story called “The Last Drop: America’s Breadbasket Faces Dire Water Crisis.”  [Read article here.] This article discussed the prolonged drought in the Texas Panhandle and the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer.  The article outlines numerous causes of the water crisis, including drought, population growth, agricultural irrigation, and Texas water law. The article accurately explains Texas groundwater law, governed by the right of capture, which provides that a landowner owns the groundwater beneath his property.  Importantly, as… Read More →

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 →