Groundwater Law Continues To Evolve – Texas Landowners Be Ready

Gray Reed

You have just arrived on the new ranch property you just purchased, leaving the rat race of city life and ready to get to work on the land. You allowed the seller to reserve the minerals so long as he waived his rights to come on to your new property to drill for oil and gas, which he gladly agreed to do. So, on your first day on the ranch you are stunned to see pumping equipment, trucks and a crew ready to set up a pad, build roads, lay pipeline and start drilling. Must be a simple mistake, but no, the crew tells you they are not here to drill for oil and gas but to drill for the groundwater. Sure, you noticed on your title commitment that the groundwater rights were severed decades ago but never has anyone drilled for groundwater and the severance did not include access rights to the surface to drill. After all, you thought, Texas law allows implied surface rights only to mineral owners not groundwater rights owners … so there was nothing to worry about. A Texas Supreme Court case changed that in 2016 and the effects of that case should now be a concern to land purchasers in every transaction.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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