Stephanie J. Moore, PG, presented on Groundwater and Surface Water Interactions with Andrew S. “Drew” Miller,  Chair of Kemp Smith‘s Public and Environmental Law Department at the State Bar of Texas’ Changing Face of Water Law conference in early 2020 in San Antonio, Texas.

Groundwater and surface water are intrinsically connected components of the hydrologic cycle; however, the legal context complicates conjunctive management of these water rights. In Texas, surface water is owned by the state (administered through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality [TCEQ]). Groundwater is privately owned, often managed by groundwater conservation districts (GCDs), except for in areas where a GCD has not been established, in which case, legal precedent (‘rule of capture’) is the standard.

Mr. Miller and Ms. Moore provided an overview of important concepts related to technical and legal aspects of GW-SW interaction in Texas, including an overview of the landmark Texas case concerning Comanche Springs, the distinct permitting processes for groundwater and surface water, the definition of underflow, examples of TCEQ enforcement involving underflow, and review of technical and legal issues on the San Saba River near Menard. More data is necessary to improve understanding of GW-SW interactions, allow for conjunctive management and to eventually contribute to improved legal management of these resources. More data is necessary to improve understanding of GW-SW interactions, allow for conjunctive management and to eventually contribute to improved legal framework for management of these resources.

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Ms. Moore is a Senior Hydrologist and Professional Geoscientist who has spent most of her career working on technical and policy matters involving groundwater/surface water interaction, vadose zone hydrology, and stormwater. She uses quantitative, computational hydrogeology; design and management of scientific investigations and long-term monitoring programs; and statistical analyses to help policy makers understand and interpret technical data, and make decisions that optimize water resources.

Andrew S. “Drew” Miller is  Chair of Kemp Smith‘s Public and Environmental Law Department. Drew represents private and public entities across Texas in the areas of water, environmental and administrative law, often in matters involving groundwater regulation and contaminated property. He serves as general counsel to several water districts and as special counsel to other districts in litigation and other matters, and represents parties in matters before groundwater districts, including permit proceedings.