Texas Groundwater: Money Won't Fix All the Problems

Aug 29, 2013

Map of Groundwater Conservation Districts in the TX Panhandle: 61-North Plains (founded 12/1955); 35-Hemphill County (11/4/1997); 64-Panhandle (1/21/1956); 56-Mesquite (11/4/1986); 37-High Plains No.1 (9/29/1951); 28-Gateway (5/3/2003)
Credit Texas Water Development Board

Lawmakers pushed this session for a statewide, comprehensive water plan.  That includes a proposition that would add $2 billion to the Texas Water Development Board’s portfolio for future water supply projects, if approved.  At the annual meeting of the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts, participants concluded money won’t fix many problems they face reported the Texas Tribune.    

There are close to 100 groundwater districts in Texas (click here to download map).  They are given the responsibility of protecting the environment and habitat of endangered species, as well as preventing the aquifers from being depleted.  Yet Texas water law says landowners own the water under their land and they can pump as they want.  That basic conflict has been compounded by: drought, hydraulic fracturing, and water contamination from oil exploration.

Map of all GCDs in Texas. See link in story to download a pdf of the map.
Credit Texas Water Development Board

Who controls the use of water in Texas?  At this time, there is no definitive answer.  The issue is in legal and legislative debate.