In 1904, when the Texas Supreme Court established the Rule of Capture as the governing principle for groundwater in Texas, the court famously quoted an 1861 Ohio Supreme Court case that said:
“In the absence of express contract and a positive authorized legislation, as between proprietors of adjoining land, the law recognizes no correlative rights in respect to underground waters percolating, oozing, or filtrating through the earth; and this mainly from considerations of public policy: (1) Because the existence, origin, movement, and course of such waters, and the causes which govern and direct their movements, are so secret, occult, and concealed that an attempt to administer any set of legal rules in respect to them would be involved in hopeless uncertainty, and would, therefore, be practically impossible. (2) Because any such recognition of correlative rights would interfere, to the material detriment of the commonwealth, with drainage and agriculture, mining, the construction of highways and railroads, with sanitary regulations, building, and the general progress of improvement in works of embellishment and utility.” [emphasis added]
Thus began the first page of a long book on groundwater law and management in Texas, a book that continues to be written today.
The spark for this site is to provide an ongoing update of a paper I wrote for the Law of the Rio Grande and a paper currently under review at the Texas Water Journal about the history of groundwater management in Texas. This site will also be a place for me to (1) write in general about groundwater and (2) organize thoughts, information, and research on aquifers and aquifer management in Texas.
The historical header images are from a personal postcard collection focused on groundwater in Texas (I also have a post-a-card-a-day blog on water-related postcards). In the (ahem) spirit of “so secret, occult, and concealed”, the site’s “logo” is the Hamorphel demon seal, which is similar to the symbol used by hydrogeologists to mark a phreatic surface such as a water table. No demonology is implied.