Texas groundwater rights and immunities: from East to Day and beyond
Vol. 5 No. 1 (2014). Cover photo: Lake Buchanan, Burnet County. ©2014. Mark Lee, Lower Colorado River Authority.


groundwater law
rule of capture
absolute ownership
Supreme Court of Texas


For well over a century, the debate has raged over what interest, if any, landowners possess in the groundwater beneath their property, as well as what degree of tortious immunity a neighboring landowner enjoys for draining adjoining groundwater. After the Texas Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Day, and the Texas Legislature’s 2011 amendments to the Texas Water Code, these debates appear to have been finally settled—for now!

This article traces the jurisprudential development of Texas groundwater law, from its earliest origins in ancient Rome through to the most influential and substantive decisions of the Texas Supreme Court and legislation from the Texas Legislature. It also examines what cases are on the horizon that may yet affect Texas groundwater law in the coming years.


Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:

    1. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
    2. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
    3. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).