Galloway, who works as a lobbyist in water and environmental law, was quick to point out that Bee County’s rural water district is one of the good ones, but there are many bad ones in the state.
He delivered the program as the guest of his father, John Galloway, at the club’s weekly luncheon at the Beeville Country Club.
The speaker gave Rotarians and their guests a cursory overview of the history of water law in Texas which established the rights of landowners to the groundwater under their parcels.
The former Beeville City Councilman then explained how water districts were formed and how the laws can be abused to the detriment of a landowner. With certain exemptions, districts have the power to establish rules as to how much water per well may be pumped, how far apart wells must be, or even if a new well can be drilled.
When district boards are controlled by special interest groups and not run with the interests of landowners taken into consideration, abuse can ensue, he said.
In 2005 the Legislature made profound changes in water law by creating regional boards to coordinate districts and set consumption goals. However, Galloway said, the legislature didn’t specify how those goals were to be set and special interests again can enter the equation with reverse engineering to achieve a desired outcome to the detriment of landowners.
He advised landowners to pay attention to the next legislative session for any changes although the state faces a rough session with an $18 billion budget shortfall, redistricting and Sunset Advisory Commission all on the agenda.