Texas Recognizes Property Interest in Groundwater in Place

February 29, 2012 | Erika Eckley and Roger McEowen

In a landmark case, the Texas Supreme Court has held that land ownership includes an interest in groundwater in place.  In addition, the court held that limiting a private owner’s water usage for a public purpose constitutes a taking requiring the payment of just compensation under the Texas Constitution.  The Court’s opinion could have far-reaching implications as Texas and other states continue to grapple with limited water resources and competing claims and needs for its use. This case establishes that Courts are recognizing that water use has significant value and that there will be costs to everyone to ensure limited water resources are put to the most productive uses.

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