For the Home Place Orchard, the trial court calculated the compensation owed as the difference between
the market value of the 228.85 acre-feet of water the Braggs requested and the market value of the 120.2
acre-feet of water they actually received. For the D’Hanis Orchard, the trial court calculated the compensation
owed as the difference between the per acre market value price of farm land with no water rights and the per
acre market value price of farm land with water rights.
The court of appeals concluded that these calculations were incorrect, because the Braggs were not in the
business of selling water – they were in the business of commercial pecan farming. The value of the property
that was taken was the difference between the value of the commercial pecan orchards immediately before
and immediately after the Act was applied to the two Bragg properties.
Any enhancement to the value of
the property that resulted from the taking may not be considered.
The Edwards Aquifer Authority and Bragg have filed petitions for review of the court of appeals’ decision,
which are currently pending at the Texas Supreme Court.
City of Lubbock v. Coyote Lake Ranch, LLC
On June 17, 2014, the Amarillo Court of Appeals issued its opinion in
City of Lubbock v. Coyote Lake Ranch,
holding that the “accommodation doctrine,” which applies to the mineral interests owner’s use of the surface
where mineral ownership has been severed from surface ownership, did not apply to restrict the City’s use of
the surface of the Coyote Lake Ranch’s land to develop the City’s groundwater rights under the land.
In 1953, the City of Lubbock bought the rights to groundwater under the land now owned by Coyote Lake
Ranch, separately from the surface estate. In the deed, the City acquired all groundwater rights, and “the full
and exclusive rights of ingress and egress in, over and on said lands so that the Grantee of said water rights
may at any time and location drill water wells and test wells on said lands for the purpose of investigating,
exploring, producing, and getting access to percolating and underground water.” The deed granted the right
to lay water lines, build reservoirs, booster stations, houses for employees, and roads, “together with the
rights to use all that part of said lands necessary or incidental to the taking of percolating and underground
water and the production, treating
and transmission of water therefrom
and delivery of said water to the water
system of the City of Lubbock only.”
In 2012, the City proposed a well field
plan for the property and began testing
and development under that plan.
Coyote Lake Ranch sued, asking for a
temporary injunction to halt the City’s
activity. Coyote claimed that the City
failed to accommodate Coyote Lake
Ranch’s existing uses of the property
(the opinion does not say what those
uses are), and that the City could use
alternatives that would lessen damage
to Coyote Lake Ranch’s use of the land.
The trial court granted the temporary
injunction, holding that Coyote was
likely to be able to show at trial that
the City’s plan could be “accomplished
through reasonable alternative means
that do not unreasonably interfere with
[Coyote Lake Ranch’s] current uses.”
The City appealed.
In 2011, 2012
and 2013, in