ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND POLICY
Concerns about the quality of both groundwater and surface water have intensified and both state and federal protection of those sources have expanded. Existing wastewater permits are constantly scrutinized and new wastewater permits are becoming more difficult to obtain. Current water quality standards are more rigid and difficult to satisfy.
The attorneys at Booth, Ahrens and Werkenthin, P.C. have the knowledge and technical experience needed to counsel, aid, and defend clients involved in all matters associated with water quality issues. The Firm has experience in assisting clients in obtaining or protesting Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) and Section 404 permits. The Firm has extensive knowledge of the Clean Water Act and associated state Water Quality Standards and is active in the development and implementation of Texas’s water quality regulations, standards, and laws. If needed, the Firm has the litigation and technical experience to effectively handle complex water quality cases in administrative, state, or federal court, and can assist clients to negotiate resolutions to conflicts before litigation becomes necessary.
Waste, Recycling, Materials Management
Our Firm’s understanding of the complexity of waste and recycling systems, material flow, commodity markets, and the Texas legislative and regulatory environment makes us uniquely qualified to assist in the expanding policy horizon of materials management. We have experience and stakeholder networks to represent local governments, private industry and NGOs alike in navigating the legislative or regulatory process in Texas. In the past, members of our Firm have crafted and supported passage of bipartisan legislation to further the development of economic data and rate metrics for recycled commodities. We also have provided industry-related understanding and economic development consultation for recycling industries operating in Texas and those interested in relocating in Texas.
Since the mid-90s, Booth, Ahrens and Werkenthin, P.C. has provided legal services to the Texas Aquaculture Association (“TAA”) and its members. Initially, this effort consisted of obtaining authorizations for shrimp and fish farms located on the Texas coast. At that time, coastal aquaculture facilities faced the same permitting hurdles that major industries and municipalities faced at TCEQ. Later, licensing requirements became more rational through TCEQ’s adoption of a permit by rule, and eventually through a general permit when the EPA delegated wastewater authority to the TCEQ.
Now thanks to efforts of several state agencies, permitting and licensing are no longer a major problem. Today’s challenges are centered more around regulatory and operational issues. We continue to work with TAA members to eliminate overbroad regulations while still maintaining necessary protections for the environment, particularly our native aquatic species.
WATER RIGHTS AND SUPPLY
Booth, Ahrens and Werkenthin, P.C. is a full-service law firm for matters involving water rights and uses, including through contested and uncontested permitting proceedings at both local and state levels, defending property rights in water, contract and rate development and disputes, water transfers and transport and development of policy, local and state agency regulations, and state law.
Texas has a rich history of surface water laws intended to encourage and support economic development, and also a future that promises increasing competition for limited surface water supplies. Today, for securing and defending surface water rights under reasonable conditions of use, the Firm and its water supply clients navigate complex state and federal regulations that affect projects both large and small. Our surface water clients are located throughout the state and include individuals, local and international businesses, electric generators, and political subdivisions all needing a reliable supply. Our clients’ sources of surface water are diverse, and increasingly include innovative approaches to incorporating wastewater reuse, water market transactions, moving water by bed and banks or pipeline, conjunctive use with groundwater, identification of excess flow opportunities, subordination agreements, and desalination and storage projects. For water storage, the Firm has assisted in obtaining and amending rights for more than fifteen on- and off-channel Texas reservoirs, including some of the largest reservoirs in the state.
The Firm is uniquely qualified to develop regional water supply solutions when it meets our clients’ particular needs. We also have extensive experience in negotiating and developing water supply contracts and other terms of service for both water suppliers and water purchasers, and in litigating water rates and compelled service.
Booth, Ahrens and Werkenthin, P.C. has decades of experience with groundwater law, representing groundwater conservation districts in their rulemaking and permitting processes, and increasingly, groundwater users who face unwarranted reductions in the groundwater supplies that they depend on or landowners who must actively defend their property rights in order to get well permits, transfers, or other authorizations for use.
Members of the Firm have protested and appealed groundwater conservation district rules and orders, challenged desired future conditions adopted by groundwater conservation districts, promoted or fought certain groundwater legislation, and obtained groundwater production permits (in some situations representing clients in contested case proceedings). Our legislative practice, and our experience, position us well to work with our clients to access groundwater reserves that are currently being withheld from use under state law and local regulation.