Win for farmers confirms state water rights system

In a win for farmers, ranchers and longtime water rights holders, the Texas Supreme Court on Friday let stand a Brazos River basin decision that limits the power of the state to divvy up water during drought.

Farmers along the Brazos River, whose basin includes Williamson County, had sued the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, arguing that officials overstepped their bounds and treated farmers unfairly as the agency tried to balance water needs during a scorching drought.

In the balance was a generations-old water rights system known as the prior appropriations system, which holds that you’re served in the order in which you got in line: “First in time, first in right” is the maxim of state water attorneys.

The dispute began in fall 2012 when Dow Chemical — which operates a plant in Freeport, where the Brazos spills into the Gulf of Mexico — asked the state environmental agency to make a “priority call” to suspend water rights for those in line after Dow… Read more from the Austin American Statesman