TCEQ restricts junior water rights
Drought conditions continue to be widespread across the state. As a result, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is informing water right holders in the San Saba River Watershed of the Colorado River Basin that water rights will be administered on a priority basis.
On August 26, 2013, the executive director of the TCEQ notified certain junior water right holders in the San Saba River Watershed with a priority date of 1900 or later that their right to divert water is immediately suspended. Suspended water rights include those with a priority date of 1900 or later, term, and temporary water-right permits in the San Saba River Watershed in McCulloch, Menard, and Schleicher counties.
In order to protect public health and welfare, water rights with municipal uses have not been suspended. Land owners with property adjacent to the San Saba River or other streams in the watershed may also continue to divert water for domestic and livestock use as part of their inherent riparian rights.
These actions are guided by Texas Water Code Section 11.053, 30 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 36, and the priority doctrine in Texas law. The most senior water rights are served first during times of drought with domestic and livestock uses superior to any appropriated rights. Water rights are suspended or curtailed by priority date, with the most recently issued – or “junior” – priority users suspended before senior water rights in the area.
The TCEQ has asked that all San Saba River watershed water right holders continue to take appropriate steps to conserve water, implement their drought contingency plans, and prepare for additional suspensions or curtailments should drought conditions persist.
Water is a precious resource – all Texans are encouraged to conserve, especially during times of drought. More Texas drought information here.