Water is everyone’s issue. Two stories coming up in my March issue illustrate this, while exploring the legal and policy issues that water professionals deal with now and might confront in the future.
“In Texas for sure, it is difficult to find a campaign for elected office that has not focused on water policy in some form or fashion,” says lawyer Jason Hill in one article. “Ten years ago, you would be hard pressed to find one that had.”
Hill works on well and other water issues for environmental law firm Lloyd, Gosselink, Rochelle & Townsend in Austin, Texas. Alexis Brumm, the new managing editor for National Driller, met Hill at the Texas Ground Water Association’s annual convention in Lubbock, Texas, and later interviewed him.
The other story is an interview with Professor Joseph Dellapenna of Villanova University School of Law. Freelancer Rachel Beavins Tracy interviewed the recognized expert on groundwater law. He touches on topics ranging from water transfers to hydraulic fracturing.
Both men mention what Hill calls the “terrible state of confusion” that Texas groundwater law is in.
“In Texas,” Dellapenna says, “I’ve argued that the rule of capture does not actually represent a property right before you pump it at all, and the Texas Supreme Court two years ago said ‘No, that’s not right, you own the water under your ground.’ ”
He continues: “They didn’t deal with the problem that water’s constantly moving. Do I lose title when it leaves my property? What if it leaves my property because of the neighbors?”
Texas is likely confronting these questions more often, I think, because of continued drought. Scarcity leads to fighting over a shrinking pie. More areas of the United States will have to face and work through these issues as persistent drought plagues areas like Texas and California.
For instance, the Modesto Bee recently reported that a group of farmers in Stanislaus County face a lawsuit over irrigation wells. Environmentalists say the county didn’t account for the impact those wells would have on the water basin.
The issues I mention may not seem to apply to drillers directly. But think about it this way: If people can’t put in a well without getting sued, how likely is it that drillers will get work? Water, as I said, is everyone’s issue. I urge drillers to pick up March’s issue and read those two stories. But don’t stop there. Find out how your state deals with issues of water supply and permitting. Keep yourself educated, so you know what potential changes might come soon that affect whether you can put food on your table.
Let me know your thoughts. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, stay safe out there drillers.