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Agriculture Today

Groundwater ownership bill passes major House hurdle

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May 31, 2011 | 2,940 views | Post a comment

AUSTIN -- Legislation to strengthen landowners’ ownership of the groundwater below their land passed the Texas House May 24, clearing a major hurdle. According to the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in a May 24 press release, the legislation now goes back to the Texas Senate for final approval before heading to the governor’s desk.

Senate Bill 332, by Sen. Troy Fraser and Rep. Allan Ritter, clarifies that groundwater below a landowner’s land is their real property, meaning it is subject to the same legal protections as other private property, such as land.

Strengthening groundwater ownership for landowners has been a top priority for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association this legislative session, said Joe Parker Jr., rancher and president of the cattle raisers association.

“Landowners have owned the groundwater under their property for more than 100 years, but our rights have recently been challenged,” Parker said. “SB 332 puts to rest any question of who owns the groundwater below a landowner’s property.”

SB 332 clarifies that landowners own the groundwater below their land as real property. The bill entitles landowners to drill for and produce the groundwater below their land without waste. It recognizes that this private-property right may be regulated, like other private-property rights, to protect and conserve groundwater, and it ensures fair and impartial regulation of a landowner’s rights in groundwater.

“We appreciate the hard work of Chairman Fraser, Chairman Ritter, and the rest of the Texas Legislature. We look forward to SB 332 becoming law,” Parker said.

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