The first Texas Water Symposium of the new year will be 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 29, at the Admiral Nimitz Ballroom in Fredericksburg. The topic under discussion will be “History of the Rule of Capture and its Role and Status in Shaping Water Policy and Planning in Texas.” Gregory M. Ellis, attorney and executive director of the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts, will argue that the Rule of Capture does not grant a vested property right in groundwater and that groundwater conservation districts are the only method of preserving our aquifers; Ed McCarthy, an attorney practicing primarily in water and water-related matters, will argue that groundwater conservation districts may not confiscate private property rights.
The Rule of Capture, a basic principle of Texas groundwater law, was adopted by the Texas Supreme Court in 1904. It gives each landowner the right to capture an unlimited amount of groundwater by tapping into the underlying aquifer, without liability for unintentional injury to an adjacent landowner caused by excessive pumping (other than damage from negligently causing subsidence).
Ellis has a long history in water law and water issues. While still in law school in the mid-eighties, he helped clerk the House Natural Resources Committee and worked on a variety of water legislation. After graduating from the University of Texas Law School he worked as legislative liaison for the Texas Water Commission. In 1992, Ellis moved to Houston to serve as General Council to the Harris-Galveston Coastal Subsidence District. The Edwards Aquifer Authority tapped Ellis to start up operations in 1997 as their general manager, a position he held until October 2004 when he left to start his solo law practice in League City, Texas. Ellis is well versed in groundwater law, groundwater conservation districts and administrative procedures, and represents groundwater conservation district clients across the state.
Ed McCarthy is a partner in the Austin law firm of Jackson, Sjoberg, McCarthy & Wilson L.L.P. Practicing primarily in water and water-related matters, McCarthy has significant experience in representing private landowners and municipalities, water supply corporations and other public entities, including water districts operating pursuant to Article XVI, Section 59, of the Texas Constitution. His representation has included matters involving permitting, sales and transfers of both groundwater and surface water rights, regional water supply projects, and the development of water rights and district legislation, and agency rules and regulations, certificates of convenience and necessity and water/wastewater operations, elections, contracting, financing, open meetings and records compliance, water rights applications and contested cases before the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. He also has authored numerous publications on Texas water issues.
The annual Texas Water Symposium series is co-sponsored by Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas Tech University, Texas Public Radio and the Hill Country Alliance. The last of the 2008-09 series will be March 12 at Schreiner University.
These events are free and open to the public. All of the water forums are taped and aired on Texas Public Radio.
For more information about the series, check the Web at www.schreiner.edu/water or contact Bob Hickerson or Dr. Tom Arsuffi at 325-446-2301, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; or Amy Armstrong at 830-792-7405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.