July 25, 2014

Latest Development on Brazos River Senior Water Rights Call

Water rights seniority and priority of uses continue to be active issues affecting the Brazos River system.  In November 2012, the senior water rights holder on the Brazos made a priority call, asserting it could not obtain all of the water it was entitled to due to diversions by upstream users.  TCEQ responded with an order suspending all junior water rights on the Brazos except for municipal users and power generation.  The Texas Farm Bureau sued, challenging TCEQ’s authority to issue the order pursuant to the State’s drought curtailment rules.  Although the TCEQ lifted the curtailment in January 2013, the litigation was not mooted.

On June 6, 2013, a bench ruling from the Travis County district court granted the Farm Bureau’s motion for summary judgment, finding that TCEQ’s drought curtailment rules exceed the agency’s authority by allowing deviation from the water rights seniority system and exempting certain preferred uses. TCEQ appealed this ruling to the Third Court of Appeals, which suspended the bench ruling pending appeal. The Farm Bureau sought but was initially denied a remand to the district court to hear evidence on the alleged impact the suspended order would have on at-risk crops. However, the Thirteenth District Court of Appeals recently remanded the matter to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing on whether the order restricting TCEQ action under the drought curtailment rules should be suspended pending appeal.

Amidst these controversial legal proceedings, on June 26, 2013, the Brazos River senior water rights holder again issued a priority call, and TCEQ again responded on July 2, 2013 with a similar suspension order, curtailing junior water rights except for municipalities and power generation. Along with the case The Aransas Project v. Shaw discussed in the first article above, the Brazos River situation continues to be a key case to watch regarding the impact of limited water supplies and competing uses during Texas’ ongoing drought conditions.  

© 2014 Beveridge & Diamond PC

About the Author

Karen Hansen, Environmental Lawyer, Beveridge & Diamond Law Firm

Karen M. Hansen’s environmental law practice spans a variety of regulatory programs including water quality and use, contaminated property redevelopment, oceans law, OSHA, and corporate-wide compliance auditing under EPA and state audit policies. Ms. Hansen counsels clients on emerging trends in water quality programs, including initiatives such as watershed-based permitting, TMDLs, trading and allocation, and land-based impacts on coastal and ocean resources. She has extensive experience assisting clients with implementing environmental management systems, including...


Boost: AJAX core statistics

Legal Disclaimer

You are responsible for reading, understanding and agreeing to the National Law Review's (NLR’s) and the National Law Forum LLC's  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy before using the National Law Review website. The National Law Review is a free to use, no-log in database of legal and business articles. The content and links on are intended for general information purposes only. Any legal analysis, legislative updates or other content and links should not be construed as legal or professional advice or a substitute for such advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship is formed by the transmission of information between you and the National Law Review website or any of the law firms, attorneys or other professionals or organizations who include content on the National Law Review website. If you require legal or professional advice, kindly contact an attorney or other suitable professional advisor.  

Some states have laws and ethical rules regarding solicitation and advertisement practices by attorneys and/or other professionals. The National Law Review is not a law firm nor is  intended to be  a referral service for attorneys and/or other professionals. The NLR does not wish, nor does it intend, to solicit the business of anyone or to refer anyone to an attorney or other professional.  NLR does not answer legal questions nor will we refer you to an attorney or other professional if you request such information from us. 

Under certain state laws the following statements may be required on this website and we have included them in order to be in full compliance with these rules. The choice of a lawyer or other professional is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Attorney Advertising Notice: Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Statement in compliance with Texas Rules of Professional Conduct. Unless otherwise noted, attorneys are not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, nor can NLR attest to the accuracy of any notation of Legal Specialization or other Professional Credentials.

The National Law Review - National Law Forum LLC 4700 Gilbert Ave. Suite 47 #230 Western Springs, IL 60558  Telephone  (708) 357-3317 If you would ike to contact us via email please click here.