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Surface Water in Texas

Water Rights Article by Racy Haddad
Board Certified Residential Real Estate and Managing Shareholder

In Texas, water law generally applies to either groundwater or surface water rights. Surface water is defined in the Texas Water Code Section 11.021 as “water under ordinary flow, underflow and tides of every flowing river, natural stream, lake, bay, arm of the Gulf of Mexico, and stormwater, floodwater or rain water of every river, natural stream, canyon, ravine, depression, and watershed in the state.”

Diffused surface water is water on the surface of one’s land that has not yet entered a ‘watercourse’ and that instead is owned by the owner of the land over which it flows.  Examples of this diffused water include water flowing on the ground from melting snows or falling rain and which continues to be such until it reaches a bed or channel in which the water is accustomed to flowing.

Often legal problems may arise when one landowner interferes with the natural flow of surface water running across their land. Commonly that land owner may build improvements or prepare a parcel of property such that the natural flow of surface water may be increased and is diverted onto his neighbor’s property.  When the adjacent landowner realizes an increased amount of water onto his property due to such diversion, damages may occur.

Under the Texas Water Code Section 11.086 an owner
whose property is injured by an overflow of water caused by an unlawful diversion or impounding of surface water by a neighbor may recover damages occasioned by the overflow. The injured property owner may also be entitled to seek injunctive receive from a court requesting an order requiring his neighbor to ‘reverse’ or ‘undo’ the changes made to the natural flow of surface water.

In years with extraordinary rainfall, questions may also arise as to whether a neighbor has really diverted water to an adjoining land lower, or whether a specific extraordinary rain event is the sole problem.

If you have specific questions about Texas Water law, call Haddad Legal Group, P.C.

Nothing herein is deemed to be offered as legal advice. Reading this article has not created any attorney-client relationship with Haddad Legal Group, P.C. and you are advised to seek independent legal counsel of your choosing.

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