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Water School

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Who has water rights in Texas?

Water rights in Texas are complicated.  They date back to Spanish colonial law, but also include influences from English common law, a history of state legislation as well as judicial decisions. Water rights in Texas are further complicated because ground and surface water rights are approached differently. Generally, water rights law determine who can use water, how much may be used and for what purpose.
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What is water rights adjudication?

Different laws for surface water use have led to conflicting claims over time. In 1967, the Texas Legislature directed a predecessor of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to settle claims. The agency looked at all claims and issued certificates of adjudication for those they approved. Each was assigned a priority date that determined the claimant’s seniority for water rights.
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What are senior and junior water rights?

Senior rights have an earlier priority date and claimants who hold them have a higher priority to divert water from a stream or water body than those with more junior rights. However, in times of scarcity, when there is not enough water to meet demand in a basin, those who need water for domestic and livestock use have first right to water, regardless of one’s priority date.After domestic and livestock needs are met, those with senior water rights can insist diversions by those with junior wate...
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What is a priority date?

The Texas Water Code provides for water permitting in a “first in time; first in right” basis.  This practice establishes a place in line for water users with the earliest permits being guaranteed priority to take water over those with more “junior” permits.  This date is important as it determines who priority to divert and use water first.
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What is a drought of record?

A drought of record is the worst recorded drought since compilation of meteorologic and hydrologic data began.  In terms of severity and duration, the devastating drought of the 1950s is considered the drought of record for many areas in the Brazos River basin. This drought lasted a decade in many places and covered much of the nation, including all of Texas.  In 2008-2009, some parts of the state recorded a new drought of record.
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The information provided on this site is intended as background on water within the Brazos River basin. There should be no expectation that this information is all encompassing, complete or in any way examines every aspect of this very complex natural resource.

If you have questions about a post or would like additional information, please contact us or call 888-922-6272.

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