" 'Vested' would have created a constitutionally protected property right, making a statute of common law," said Gregory M. Ellis, the former head of the Edwards Aquifer Authority and now a lawyer who represents several groundwater districts.
"The threat would not have been to groundwater districts but to the water supply itself.
Every landowner would be entitled to as many wells as they wanted, and they could pump as much as they wanted."
Once the new law takes effect, Mr. Ellis
said, "the districts can manage with more flexibility around the demand and have the tools they need to get the job done."
Except for S.B. 332, the 82nd session was remarkable for being unremarkable when it came to water, one of the most crucial issues that the state will have to grapple with over the next century.
In particular, Mr. Ellis
admitted disappointment that the Legislature did not take on the bigger challenge inevitably facing Texas groundwater conservation districts and all of Texas: rising demand and declining supply.
"Eventually, a district will either have to stop issuing permits or reduce pumping to accommodate new permits," he
Unfortunately, Mr. Ellis
added, legislation "doesn't create more groundwater."