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Groundwater Regulation for Private Well Owners

Explains how groundwater production and use is managed and regulated in Texas.

State law does not provide any state agency with the authority to regulate the use or production of groundwater. Groundwater production and use is managed and regulated by local or regional groundwater conservation districts (GCDs).

Areas that are not within a GCD are subject to the rule of capture that essentially provides that groundwater, once it has been captured by a well and produced to the surface, belongs to the landowner. Limitations to the rule of capture include:

  • capture and use of groundwater cannot be done maliciously with the purpose of injuring a neighbor or amount to willful waste of the resource
  • a landowner is liable for damages if his negligent pumping of groundwater results in the subsidence of neighboring land (that is, lowering in elevation of the land surface caused by the withdrawal of groundwater).

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