Regulating Unregulated Groundwater in Texas
During a time of unparalleled pressure on groundwater resources across the state, the lack of groundwater protection in some areas of Texas is undermining important areas of law and policy—from property rights and natural resource protection, to groundwater management and regional water planning.
Protecting Species or Hindering Energy Development? How the Endangered Species Act Impacts Energy Projects on Western Public Lands
Since it was enacted in 1973, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been one of the most celebrated environmental laws, but also one of the most reviled . Though passed by the U .S . Congress with strong bipartisan support, the ESA has faced growing opposition by industry and developers frustrated by its ability to slow projects down, and by environmentalists discouraged by its failure to reverse the decline of many of the nation’s most imperiled plants and animals.
Groundwater Conflicts in Unregulated Areas
During a time of unparalleled pressure on groundwater resources across the state, the lack of groundwater protections in some areas of Texas is causing a variety of unique conflicts.
The Endangered Springflow Act: How the Endangered Species Act Influences Groundwater Law and Protects Springflow in Texas
When an endangered species is present in a spring, can the Endangered Species Act influence groundwater management and protect springflow? What regulatory tools can a groundwater conservation district utilize to protect springflow to ensure the long-term survival of rare species? What potential legal vulnerabilities do groundwater districts face if they fail to do so? What options are available under the ESA for the districts to obtain authorization for unavoidable harm to the species? In this paper, we explore the significant and developing relationship between groundwater management and endangered species protection.
The Conflict Between Endangered Species and the State Water Plan
This report examines whether water projects included in Texas’ State Water Plan and certain potential surface and groundwater withdrawals could impact any of the sixteen aquatic species in Texas that the federal government is considering listing under the Endangered Species Act. The report concludes that, overall, the potential listings will not affect the state’s plans to expand access to surface water, as the listings will only impact a small number of projects.
Implementing SB 3, Adopting Environmental Flows in Texas
The Water Code directs the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), after considering the stakeholder committees’ recommendations, to adopt environmental flow standards “adequate to support a sound ecological environment, to the maximum extent reasonable considering other public interests and other relevant factors.” This paper summarizes the environmental flow standard and strategy recommendations made by the six stakeholder committees that submitted reports to the TCEQ at the time of this paper and compares these to the standards the TCEQ ultimately adopted. The adopted standards only apply to permits seeking a new appropriation of water or to an amendment to an existing water right that increases the amount of water authorized to be stored, taken, or diverted.
LCRA and the “Drought of Record”
The reservoirs Lake Buchanan and Lake Travis are the source of water on which most central Texans depend and which the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) manages. The reservoirs have experienced periods of drought in the past, with the drought of record in the 1950’s being the most severe and prolonged drought in recorded history – until, perhaps, now.