Judge Rules in Favor of Groundwater District, Clayton Williams Jr. Cannot Export Water

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FORT STOCKTON (Statement from Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District)

Monday afternoon Clayton Williams lost his appeal of the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District’s denial of his permit application.

Williams’ affiliate and the permit applicant, Fort Stockton Holdings, L.P. (FSHLP), had applied for 47,418 acre feet from the Edwards-Trinity aquifer.

Judge Stephen Ables, Presiding Judge over the 24-county 6th Administrative Judicial Region, sitting by appointment, ruled from the bench on the District’s motion for summary judgment.

The Court granted the District’s motion on all grounds, and will require Williams to reimburse the District’s court costs and legal fees.

FSHLP argued that the District was arbitrary and capricious. The District’s legal counsel, Mike Gershon of Lloyd Gosselink, argued that several reasons supported its decision that would require full briefing on various hydrogeological, legal and other permitting considerations.

Of those several reasons, two “law issues” involving FSHLP’s proposed permit conditions rendered FSHLP’s application defective. The District urged the Court to affirm its decision and dismiss FSHLP’s appeal on those two grounds alone. The Court agreed.

FSHLP is entitled to appeal its decision to the Eighth District Court of Appeals in El Paso. FSHLP was represented at the hearing by Ed McCarthy of Jackson Sjoberg McCarthy & Townsend.

Three landowners affected by FSHLP’s application, the McKenzie, Beard and Ryan Families, participated in support of the District’s position, and were represented at the hearing by Melanie McKenzie of The O’Malley Firm. Pecos County, Pecos County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1, Brewster County Groundwater Conservation District, and City of Fort Stockton also intervened in support of the District’s position, and were represented at the hearing by Drew Miller of Kemp Smith.