Texas landowner groups back HB 3028 for groundwater ownership rights
(AUSTIN)—The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and Texas Farm Bureau today announced their support of HB 3028 to provide regulatory certainty for groundwater ownership rights. The bill, authored by Representative DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne), addresses the state’s water priorities while protecting private property rights guaranteed under the Texas Constitution.
A 2012 Texas Supreme Court decision, EAA v. Day, affirmed that groundwater, like oil and gas, is regulated by the “fair share” doctrine. This means the purpose of groundwater regulation is to afford each owner of water, in a common subsurface reservoir, a fair share of the water in place under their land.
“HB 3028 will codify into state law a principle that has been well established by 80 years of court cases,” Rep. Burns said. “Our state prides itself on providing regulatory certainty, and groundwater owners are long overdue in seeing their rights codified into law.”
The principle of fair share has long been the law of the land for oil and gas production in Texas. The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and Texas Farm Bureau, two of the state’s leading landowner and agricultural groups, agree it is time for groundwater regulators to recognize the court also apply this law to groundwater.
“Landowners should not have to continue going to court to assert their constitutional right to their groundwater,” Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association President Richard Thorpe said. “HB 3028 works to address this issue, and I would like to thank Rep. Burns for his unwavering leadership in the effort to protect the groundwater rights of Texas landowners.”
Water is of ever-increasing importance to the future of Texas and its 27.8 million residents.
“Landowners and agricultural producers shouldn’t be in legal limbo for decades while groundwater districts and users with an agenda discriminate between landowners and re-litigate what fair share means for groundwater,” Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening said. “The courts have already told us what fair share means, and HB 3028 recognizes that law.”
Texas Farm Bureau and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association pledged a unified effort with Burns and other legislators to secure the passage of HB 3028, providing regulatory certainty on groundwater rights.