Search Site
Menu
Texas Water Rights

Water has been an integral part of human habitation in Texas for as long as man has been present there.  In modern terms, the right to use water often depends on whether the source of the water originates from above or below ground.

Surface Water:

In general terms, surface water found in defined watercourses is owned by the state of Texas and thus subject to Texas permitting.  In contrast, diffused-surface water and groundwater are generally attached to land and subject to ownership by the landowner.  Section 11.134 of the Texas Water Code provides that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) may grant an application for a new or additional appropriation of water only if: 1. the application meets all necessary requirements; 2. unappropriated water is available at the source of supply; 3. the water will be beneficially used; 4. the use will not impair an existing water right or vested riparian right; 5. the use will not be detrimental to the public welfare; and 6. the applicant provides evidence that reasonable diligence will be used to avoid waste and achieve water conservation.  In its consideration of an application for a new or amended water right, the TCEQ shall also assess the effects, if any, of the issuance of the permit or amendment on: 1. freshwater inflows to bays and estuaries; 2. existing instream uses; 3. water quality; and 4. fish and wildlife habitats.  Surface water rights, in whole or part, may also be revoked by TCEQ for non-use after ten years under the authority of Subchapter E, Chapter 11 of the Water Code.

Groundwater Rights

The common law rule with regard to groundwater in Texas, called the “rule of capture” allows landowners to withdraw water under their property with little regard to neighboring groundwater users, so long as the water is beneficially used, is not intentionally wasted and does not negligently result in subsidence of adjacent property. This “rule of capture” was adopted by the Texas Supreme Court in Houston Texas & Central Railway Co. v. East.  In subsequent rulings, the Texas Supreme Court has stated legislature has authority to regulate groundwater.  Thus, in 1949 the Texas Legislature passed the Texas Groundwater Act, authorizing the formation of groundwater districts with limited power to regulate withdrawals and since then they have significantly expanded the powers of groundwater districts.  By 2001, Texas had 87 groundwater districts covering about half of Texas and regulating a great percentage of Texas’ aquifers.  The powers exercised by these districts vary, but in general, consist of regulations to prevent the depletion of water tables, the loss of artesian pressure, and subsidence which is accomplished by acts such as restricting pumping, requiring water well permits and establishing maximum rates for usage.

The Future of Water

In order for Texas to succeed in the future, landowners must be educated and prepared to understand local and statewide water needs as well as the key issues surrounding them, and then make smart choices about how we own, and manage this irreplaceable resource for generations to come. We hope you will share your ideas and support for our efforts to educate, motivate, and collaborate with fellow Texans on key water issues.

Wendy Lambie

Phone: 281-367-1222

Fax: 281-210-1361

[email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact a Dedicated Texas Business Lawyer To Schedule a Consultation
Call 281-367-1222 or contact us online to schedule a meeting.

Strong In Action

  • Spring 2019

    The Strong Firm represents borrower in $42.3 million HUD construction loan for multifamily real estate development in Walton County, Florida.

    Read More
  • Spring 2019

    The Strong Firm acts as legal counsel for borrower in $32.1 million HUD construction loan for multifamily real estate development in Conroe, Texas.

    Read More
  • Spring 2019

    The Strong Firm aids borrower in $31.7 million HUD construction loan for multifamily real estate development in Nueces County, Texas.

    Read More
  • Spring 2019

    The Strong Firm represents borrower in the refinancing of a $3.57 million commercial mortgage-backed security for a commercial office facility in Montgomery County, Texas.

    Read More
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  • Peer Rated 2019 Award

Recent Blog Posts

2019 Legislative Update – Texas POA Laws

In odd numbered years, Texas property owners associations (POAs) must consider any new laws affecting POAs that became effective following the Texas legislative session earlier that year. For 2019, a few such laws recently went into effect specific to residential POAs (but excluding condominium associations). HOUSE BILL 234 – Protection of
Read More
2019 Legislative Update – Texas POA Laws

Wrapping Up a Decade: Meaningful New Year’s Resolutions

As 2019 comes to a close, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and make resolutions for what we hope to do in 2020. I have never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions as they often seem like short-term, immeasurable goals. Things like “I am going
Read More
Wrapping Up a Decade: Meaningful New Year’s Resolutions

Not Worth the Paper It’s Written On

We have all heard the saying that something is “not worth the paper it is written on.”  This is usually said about a contract that is unenforceable or even if enforceable, it may have no value because the party has no ability to pay or perform under the contract.  Many
Read More
Not Worth the Paper It’s Written On

“So…What Happens to My Bitcoin When I Die?” Modern Estate Planning for Digital Assets and Cryptocurrencies

Millennials have complicated everything. Socializing in person wasn’t enough, so they created Facebook. Dollars weren’t enough, so they created Bitcoin. Every new app, technology or cryptocurrency brings with it more uncertainty legal uncertainty around these digital assets. Are they currency? Are they property? Can they be gifted? Can they be
Read More
“So…What Happens to My Bitcoin When I Die?” Modern Estate Planning for Digital Assets and Cryptocurrencies
  • Video Vault


    Watch videos done by our legal team to gain a better understanding of your legal needs. Our lawyers give video insight into areas such as Real Estate, Business Law, Mergers & Acquisitions and much more.

Pay Retainer Online

Use our easy-to-use and secure online payment feature.
We accept all major credit cards.

Pay Your Retainer

Contact us

Quick Contact Form