A Houston-based company has requested permits to tap a deep underground reservoir in the rural area and send the water by pipeline to thirsty Fort Bend County cities. The Houston Chronicle reported Chandler and other ranchers are opposed to the plan, claiming major pumping of the aquifer will rob them of the water beneath their land and harm their livelihoods.
“The whole operation is dependent on water,” Chandler, 70, said of the ranch, which has been in her family’s hands since 1885. “I have children and grandchildren, and we intend to keep this place going.”
There is ceaseless wrangling over water in Texas, but tensions have been high when it comes to groundwater.
Fights have broken out near Austin and San Antonio, where water marketers and utilities are working feverishly to secure large volumes beneath rural counties for fast-growing communities.
The primary reason for the conflicts is the unique way the state views groundwater.
While Texas controls surface water, state law allows landowners to pump as much water from beneath their land as they desire, as long as it is for beneficial use. What’s more, the Texas Supreme Court recently ruled that landowners may seek compensation if government actions limit their access to it.
That’s created new questions about who owns that water and how much of it they may use. “There’s a lot to be litigated,” said Mary Kelly, an Austin attorney specializing in water.
The newest front is the Bluebonnet Groundwater Conservation District, which manages the water supply beneath Austin, Grimes, Walker and Waller counties.
Electro Purification LLC has asked the district for the right to pump 22,500 acre-feet of water per year and ship it about 25 miles to Richmond and Rosenberg.<< previous 1 2 3 next >>
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