In the April 2, 2013 issue of the Austin American Statesman there was an editorial about the legislation titled House Bill 4. Under HB4 the State Water Development Board would administer funds to help finance water projects within the State of Texas. We basically agree with the intent of the legislation, to assist water districts and municipalities develop water projects by providing loans for those projects. These loans would be paid back by the project developer and would make such funds available for other projects. However, we have strong objections with the editorial board of the Statesman and some of the statements in the editorial. This blog addresses one of those objections.
The editorial states that it makes little sense to continue treating surface and ground water as if they were separate resources. This attitude is reminiscent of a recent protest at the state capital. The picture in the newspaper showed a lady carrying a sign that stated “Water is a right, Not a commodity”. The problem with that attitude is that it is wrong. Water is a commodity. The City of Austin sells that commodity to all users of the commodity within the boundaries of the City. Some of that commodity is owned by the State of Texas, municipalities and districts (surface water) and some is attached to real property (ground water) which can be leased, sold or otherwise traded like any other commodity. The fallacy in the Statesman editorial is that those rights attached to the real property belong to the individual landowner not the State. If anyone wants to use that ground water, the use rights have to be granted to the user by the landowner. This commodity concept can be compared to other mineral commodities such as oil and gas that are regulated and taxed by the State, but are owned by the mineral owners.
Our website is a sophisticated interactive web application that provides a source of information and a marketplace for landowners who would like to gain income from their property while maintaining ownership of the asset. If you own land that has ground water in the State of Texas, please visit our website at www.landandmineral.com.