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Nov 15, 2017

Today we continue in our water law series by focusing on surface water. If you missed the episode focused on groundwater, click here.

I'm joined by Carlos Rubenstein.  His experience in Texas water is vast, including former Rio Grande Water Master, to a Commissioner on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to Chair of the Texas Water Development Board.  Water is certainly a passion of Carlos' and he has had really interesting experiences.

We walk through the definition of surface water in Texas, the legal concept of prior appropriation that governs the vast majority of surface water in Texas, the TCEQ permitting process, and how people can go about obtaining rights to use surface water.  We also talk a bit about the role of watermasters in Texas.

We then talk about a number of disputes and cases including the LCRA curtailing water rights for rice farmers, Texas Farm Bureau v. TCEQ, The Aransas Project v. TCEQ, Texas v. New Mexico, the 1944 Texas-Mexico Treaty on the Rio Grande, and issues on the San Saba River.

When asked about a law he would like to see changed, Carlos said he would like to modify the current rules regarding interbasin transfers of surface water.  In Texas, a person who utilizes an interbasin transfer (moving water from one basin for use in another) does not maintain seniority of right from the original basin.  Instead, the user in the new basin is deemed junior.

For restaurant recommendations, Carlos offers Palermo Pasta House in Round Rock--order the homemade pasta--and Manuel's in Downtown Austin--get the mole enchiladas.

Contact Info for Carlos Rubenstein


(Twitter) @Carlos_TXH20