Water Issues in the Courts – Potential Ramifications for Landowners

In an update yesterday from Texas Extension, Kay Ledbetter noted that, “Ongoing water legal battles around the state and nation could set precedents that affect all landowners, so they bear watching, according to Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agricultural law specialist in Amarillo.

“Dowell Lashmet, speaking at the recent High Plains Irrigation Conference, outlined several legal actions concerning the Clean Water Act and corresponding definitions of Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS.”

Yesterday’s update explained that, “A new rule passed by EPA and the Corps of Engineers attempted to clarify the definition of WOTUS, but numerous lawsuits were filed alleging the new definition actually broadened, rather than clarified, the term.

“Currently, there is a nationwide stay on the rule pending litigation, Dowell Lashmet said. Now, the case will be going before the U.S. Supreme Court for a jurisdictional challenge to decide which court will hear arguments, and then the legal battle likely will proceed to federal court at some level.

“However, she said, something that could render all of the court proceedings unnecessary is what is going on in Washington – the Trump administration has indicated it will work to eliminate the new WOTUS rule.”

Yesterday’s extension update added that: “‘But we still have to worry about the Clean Water Act and the interpretation of ‘waters of the United States,’ Powell Lashmet said.”

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