AUSTIN – Today the Texas Public Policy Foundation released two reports by Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment Policy Analyst Josiah Neeley on regulating water rights and usage in Texas. The first paper, Water Rights Amendments: Changing Times, Changing Uses, asks lawmakers to specify that surface water right amendments for change of use are automatic, and do not require approval by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  The second paper, Groundwater Conservation Districts: Opportunities for Reform, calls for the protection of private property rights in groundwater.
“The marketability of water rights is intended to ensure that water in Texas goes to its most valued uses, and provides needed flexibility for a constantly changing state,” said Neeley. “New shifts in water use are a constant feature of a dynamic economy. For Texas to thrive, it needs to minimize government roadblocks to these changes and allow markets to function. Reforming the process for amending a water right for change of use is one small way Texas can get water flowing to where it is most needed.
"As Texans continue to plan for the state’s water challenges, focus is increasingly turning to groundwater as a source for meeting Texas’ future water needs. Texas has abundant groundwater resources, and unlike surface water, groundwater in Texas is privately owned, which could facilitate development. But while Texas groundwater is privately owned, it is not free from government regulation. Long experience shows that markets tend to do a better job of allocating resources to their highest and best use than do political and regulatory authorities. Secure and well defined property rights are a necessary pre-condition of a successful groundwater market.”
To read Water Rights Amendments: Changing Times, Changing Uses, visit:
To read Groundwater Conservation Districts: Opportunities for Reform, visit:

Josiah Neeley is a policy analyst with Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin, Texas.

Find us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter