Jimmy Gaines, Texas Landowners Council (TLC) Overview
House Bill 4 and Senate Bill 4 both relate to providing financial assistance for projects to meet the demand for water across the state. If these projects include water pipelines, some of these may be dependent on permits that result in draining aquifers to the point of drying up some people’s land. Most Desired Future Conditions (DFCs are set by the Groundwater Conservation Districts) amount to deliberate aquifer depletion.
Chapter 36 water code does not require groundwater conservation districts to prevent aquifer depletion. TLC believes the first priority is to make this requirement part of Chapter 36, which House Bill 3250 would address. If history tells us anything, practically every bill passed in the last 10 to 15 years pertaining to water in Texas has only served those who would take water from its rightful owners. The changes in these years have been to depart from GCDs’ boundaries having to be the boundaries of aquifers; to allow the rules of a district to displace ownership rights; requiring DFCs to be established in a manner that allows depletion; and a prohibition of true ownership (rights per acre) contained in SB 332.
House Bill 1796 and House Bill 2740 are still pending in the House Natural Resources Committee. The original language grandfathered permits no matter the amount. These bills only serve to give senior rights to permit holders, which is in conflict with the correlative rights of all landowners overlying aquifers. Senior rights apply to state owned surface water, not privately owned groundwater. These bills will probably be brought up for a vote in the committee with new language that will not be made available to the public before hand. We encourage people to contact members of the committee asking them to vote against these bills.