A Texas appeals court has sided with the City of San Angelo in a water rights dispute, ruling that a slight change in the City’s water rights permit at Twin Buttes Reservoir does not adversely impact other users downstream.
In an opinion dated Dec. 3, justices of the 7th District Court of Appeals in Amarillo found the City’s 2005 request to amend certain portions of its permit did not harm downstream users and was appropriately granted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in 2011.

Mayor Dwain Morrison said the ruling confirms the City took appropriate care during the application process to ensure the request would not impact water rights throughout the Concho River basin.

“This application was a request to make what are essentially cosmetic changes to the way the City’s water right describes the water coming into Twin Buttes and flowing through its dam,” Morrison said today. “The Court of Appeals agreed with us that the amendment makes no changes to the amount of water the City has long been allowed to store in the lake, or use out of the lake, at any time.”

Two years ago, the state granted the City’s request to amend its permit to allow for a gate at the reservoir to regulate the amount of water released downstream. That amount is specified in the permit and monitored by the TCEQ’s Concho River Watermaster.

A lawsuit filed by the Concho River Basin Water Conservancy Association chiefly alleged the change would lessen how much water is released downstream to other water rights holders. Citing numerous witnesses who testified to the contrary, the permit’s language and the Watermaster’s past performance, the Appeals Court overruled the argument.

The Dec. 3 decision was not the first time a court has sided with the City on the matter. Travis County State District Court Judge Tim Sulak similarly ruled in the City’s favor last year.

“We always believed the facts of the case and the law supported the TCEQ’s decision to issue the City’s requested amendment,” City Manager Daniel Valenzuela said. “The Court of Appeals reaffirmed that again last week when it overruled all of the challengers’ claims.”