SB 1 - 1997 Groundwater regulation is best accomplished through local or regional districts that operate in keeping with suitable statewide criteria, consistent with local political considerations. The state encourages the formation and operation of groundwater conservation districts to address significant groundwater quantity or quality problems.
History of GCDs High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 40 GCDs formed Senate Bill 1 99 GCDs (and counting) 1951 1997 2014
Comparing Water Management Strategies Source: Poseidon Water
Advantages of Desal Reliable, drought-proof, clean and safe source of water Competitively priced in areas lacking sufficient local fresh water supply Limited incremental land needs, unlike other alternative water sources Alleviates natural tension between various constituencies competing for a dwindling water supply Ample opportunities for Public-Private Partnerships with water agencies Courtesy of Poseidon Water
Challenges of Desal Difficulty obtaining permits Difficulty protecting water rights Difficulty developing new supplies Discrepancy of location of supply v. demand Endangered Species Costs Public perception and controversy Litigation Courtesy of GBRA
A Challenge for Desal: FPL Farming FPL Farming v. Environmental Processing Systems 1996: EPS receives UIC permit FPL settled w/EPS instead of contested case 1999: EPS applies for increased injection rate amendment FPL challenges in contested case ALJ issues PFD: waste plume will migrate 3,021 ft in 10 years…but no harm shown FPL appeals, affirmed by district and appeals courts Courts left open question of damages if plume appears below FPL's property
FPL Farming FPL files tort lawsuit Trespass Nuisance Unjust enrichment TX Supreme Court holds EPS's UIC permit does not insulate EPS from potential tort liability. Case remanded, but expressly did not resolve whether subsurface wastewater migration can be a trespass Remand to appeals court for merits
FPL Farming Appeals court Wastewater migration can be actionable trespass But burden of proof was in error; EPS must prove consent as affirmative defense REMANDED for new trial EPS appeals remand to TX Supreme Court Oral arguments held January 7, 2014 Amicus briefs filed Issues Consent (smaller issue) Trespass
FPL Farming Implications of FPL Farming Does the "right to exclude" apply to subsurface trespass? Need to prove harm? Permitting scheme Property rights in groundwater Is brackish/briny water different? Consequences for Class I waste disposal wells Consequences for Class II saltwater injection wells Consequences for groundwater desal?
How many people use desal? 12,500 desal plants worldwide, 120 countries 4 billion gallons per day Where is desal? Middle East - 60% of worldwide capacity Desal is >70% of regional water supply United States - 250 plants California Florida Texas Australia, Singapore, UK, Spain, Caribbean nations Source: TWDB; USGS
Conservation is Not Enough "Seawater and brackish groundwater desalination are one of many tools in the State’s long-term water supply toolbox." Texas Water Development Board "Sure, we're trying to conserve, but we've got to do even more with less, and conservation's not enough. It's time to bring new technology to the water's edge and turn previously unusable resources into some crystal-clear solutions." Texas Water Report: Going Deeper for the Solution (Texas Comptroller, 2014)