Student Group Petitions Texas to Revise Controverisal Drought Rule

The University of Texas Regulatory Oversight Group (UTROG) has petitioned the Texas Commisison on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to revise a regulation that allows the agency to selectively suspend water rights during droughts.

The petition calls for TCEQ to add procedural safeguards, improve conservation requirements, and further limit the circumstances under which the agency can exercise the rule.

“The Drought Curtailment Rule represents a well-intentioned first effort to craft a mechanism that could balance competing interests while shepherding the state through water shortages,” the petition states. “Recent litigation and policy debates have resulted in controversy about the rule and its implementation. These proposed amendments are designed to clarify the circumstances under which the executive director can suspend senior water rights and incentivize conservation.”

UTROG consists of students who are participating in a law school seminar in environmental regulation and are overseen by two professors. In preparing the petition, students consulted with leading water lawyers and reviewed comments the TCEQ received when it initially proposed the drought rule.