A New Approach to Texas Groundwater Management: An Environmental Justice Argument to Challenge the Rule of Capture Page: 2
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Purvis, Jody, A New Approach to Texas Groundwater Management. An Environmental
Justice Argument to Challenge the Rule of Capture. Master of Arts (Philosophy), December
2005, 65 pp., references, 32 titles.
Texas is the last remaining state to utilize the rule of capture, a doctrine based on English
Common Law, as a means of regulating groundwater resources. Many of the western states
originally used the rule of capture to regulate their groundwater resources, but over time, each of
these states replaced the rule of capture with other groundwater laws and regulations. The Texas
Water Development Board (TWDB) State Water Plan, Water for Texas-2002, warned Texans if
current water usage and laws do not change, there will be an unmet need of 7.5 million acre-feet
of water annually by 2050. This caused individuals in state and local government to begin
asking the question, "How are we going to meet our future water needs?" In the search for a
solution to the water shortage problem people have divided themselves into two groups: one
wants to consider the implementation of water conservation measures to reduce per capita water
use in order to meet future demands; while the other group wants to spend millions of dollars to
build reservoirs and dams along with laying thousands of miles of pipeline to move water around
the state. The fact that Texas has yet to come up with a definitive answer to their water shortage
peaked my curiosity to research what caused the State of Texas to get to a point of having a
shortage of fresh water and then look at possible solutions that incorporate water conservation
In my thesis I present a historical overview of the rule of capture as Texas's means of
groundwater management in order to illustrate the role it played in contributing to the water
shortage Texans now face. I also take a historical look at the environmental justice movement, a
grass-roots movement by environmentalists and Civil Rights activists working together to
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Purvis, Jody. A New Approach to Texas Groundwater Management: An Environmental Justice Argument to Challenge the Rule of Capture, thesis, December 2005; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc4941/m1/2/: accessed November 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .