From the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)

News Release
TCEQ eases some restrictions on water rights
Neches River Basin affected

Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012

Contact:  Andrea Morrow
Phone:  512-239-5011  
Pager:  512-896-3727

Conditions have improved to the point where the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality notified more than 160 Neches River Basin junior water-right holders that their right to divert water is no longer suspended.

In November 2011 the TCEQ responded to a senior priority call in the Neches River Basin by notifying junior water-right holders with a priority date of Aug. 13, 1913 or later that their right to divert was suspended. The senior priority call has now been amended, and many of the previously suspended water right holders can divert water again. While conditions are better, some non-municipal junior water rights, term, and temporary water-right permits in the Neches River Basin are still suspended.

In order to protect public health and welfare, water rights with municipal uses or for power generation have not been suspended. Land owners with property adjacent to watercourses in the Neches River Basin may also continue to divert water for domestic and livestock use as part of their inherent riparian rights.

These actions are guided by 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.

Drought conditions continue to be widespread across the state. The TCEQ has asked that all Neches River water-right holders take 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.