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Texas High Court Shrinks Agency’s Water Rights Authority

May 20, 2022, 5:03 PM

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality lacks exclusive jurisdiction over water rights and only the courts have the power to settle conflicting claims of water rights ownership, the state’s high court ruled Friday.

The Texas Supreme Court’s decision clears up an ambiguity that remained concerning the TCEQ, the courts, and the Texas Water Code. Decades ago, the court determined it was a violation of separation of powers for a state agency to determine water rights, striking down the Irrigation Act.

Historically, the power to determine disputed property rights has been vested in the judicial branch, the court said. Water rights ...