Sipriano v. Great Spring Waters of America, Inc.


Plaintiff, a local resident, sued Defendant, a water bottling company for pumping too much water from the ground.  Plaintiff and defendant lived next to one another.  Plaintiff’s well was beginning to dry, such that he no longer had access to the water beneath his own property.


Texas adheres to the Capture Rule:  the rule effectively states that the water beneath his land is his and that he may capture as much of it as runs beneath the property, even if it dries neighboring wells.


Whether the capture rule in Texas is so unreasonable that the court should overturn.


No, affirmed.  The court must adhere to long standing doctrine; absent, any legislative direction otherwise, the court is in no position to overturn long standing precedent and state law.  The legislature, at present, has only permitted the implementation of localized water preservation districts.  The Act which authorizes the capture has a legitimate state interest, such as:  “the grandfathering of existing users, the caps on water withdrawals, and the regional powers of the Authority.”  The reiterates to the legislature that there is a need to adopt new waters laws, because the court, in recognizing the restrictions on its own authority, cannot make a decision that supersedes state common law in existence since 1917.  “In the absence of positive authorized legislation, as between proprietors of adjoining lands, the law recognizes no correlative rights in respect to underground waters percolating, oozing, or filtrating through the earth.”

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