History

HISTORY of WATER LAW and the SOUTHEAST TEXAS GROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT

In 1904 the Texas Supreme Court adopts the English Common Law “Rule of Capture” in the Houston & Texas Central Railroad v. East Case.

  • Rule of Capture – The right of a landowner to capture and use as much water as can be beneficially used without waste.

In 1957, Texas Legislature mandated statewide water planning and created the Texas Water Development Board. Texas law recognizes two types of freshwater

  • Surface Water the water of rivers, streams, and public lakes. All surface water in the is regulated by the State.
  • Groundwater – the water below the surface of the earth. The groundwater of Jasper, Newton, Hardin and Tyler Counties lies with the Gulf Coast Aquifer.

In 1996, Texas suffered intense drought. Thus, Texas revitalized the importance of water planning and recognized the need for more local and regional involvement in water planning.

In 1996 Henderson County, Texas – Ozarka Spring Water Company was accused of draining dry the wells of neighbors. Ozarka pumped 90,000 gallons/day. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ozarka citing Texas Law “Rule of Capture”.

In 1997 the passage of Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) created a new state wide, bottom up water planning method. SB 1 authorized the creation of the 16 Regional Water Planning groups. Each group is charged with the creation of the “regional” water plan. The Texas Water Development Board compiles all of the regional water plans into the State Water Plan. The Southeast Texas Groundwater Conservation District is located within the Region I Water Planning Group.

In 2001 Senate Bill 2 (SB 2) created Groundwater Management Areas (GMAs) to facilitate the regional planning of shared aquifers. The Texas Water Development Board created 16 GMAs on the basis of shared major aquifers. The Southeast Texas Groundwater Conservation District is located within GMA 14.

In 2005 SB 2 was improved upon by House Bill 1763 (HB 1763). HB 1763 requires very specific joint planning by the groundwater conservation districts within each GMA. This process has come to be known as Desired Future Conditions process or DFC process. The DFC process required the GMAs to set a quantifiable condition of the aquifer at some point in the future.

In 2003 Senate Bill 1888 was passed as special legislation for Jasper/Newton Counties to create the South East Texas Groundwater Conservation District which was subject to a confirmation election by the voters of Jasper/Newton Counties. In November of 2004 the voters of Jasper and Newton Counties approved the creation of the Southeast Texas Groundwater Conservation District.

In 2005 the Commissioners’ Courts of Hardin and Tyler Counties adopted resolutions requesting t the Southeast Texas Groundwater Conservation District annex the counties for inclusion into the existing district. In November of 2005 the voters of Hardin and Tyler Counties approved the inclusion to the Southeast Texas Groundwater Conservation District.