On February 17, 2012, the Texas Supreme Court held in Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Day that land ownership in Texas includes ownership of groundwater in place that cannot be taken without adequate compensation.  In the specific context of the Day case, this meant that the EAA could not deny Mr. Day the right to pump groundwater from his property overlying the Edwards Aquifer for failure to show that he put groundwater “to beneficial use” during the 20-year historical period ending May 31, 1993, without being subject to a “just compensation” claim under the state constitution.  

Although the effect of this decision is greatest on the Edwards Aquifer Authority and landowners within its jurisdiction – both those currently holding withdrawal permits and those previously not deemed eligible for permits – its implications extend to virtually any landowner in the state and to all of the 96 Groundwater Conservation Districts that currently regulate 90% of all groundwater produced in Texas.  In the next post, I will explore some of the likely effects of this decision.