Texas Supreme Court rules landowners own groundwater
The long-awaited decision from the Texas Supreme Court on the Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Day McDaniel makes it clear that the landowner owns the groundwater in place as part of their land, according to Kenneth Dierschke, president of the Texas Farm Bureau.
"This is another in a long line of recent successes defending private property rights, including key eminent domain reforms," Dierschke said.
He added, "The ruling recognized the passage of SB 332 - Texas Farm Bureau's priority legislation on groundwater ownership passed in the last legislative session - that says a landowner's interest in groundwater in place cannot be taken for public use without adequate compensation."
Dierschke said the ruling goes beyond state water codes, giving landowners a constitutional protection under takings laws regarding private property.
However, the president of the state's largest farm organization noted that ownership of groundwater does not preclude the regulation of groundwater for conservation purposes.
"The court recognized the authority of the Edwards Aquifer Authority and groundwater conservation districts to regulate groundwater, even though it is the private property of the landowner," Dierschke said.
He concluded, "The Texas Supreme Court decision provides a critical balance between the state and local entities' authority to conserve this precious resource and the landowner's right to use it."