River authority suit against BMA filed
By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer
Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District (BCRAGD) attorney Richard Mosty filed a suit on behalf of the district against Bexar Medina Atascosa Counties Water Control and Improvement District (BMA-WCID) with 198th District Court on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
The filing came at the behest of the BCRAGD's board of directors, who voted in a called meeting held that day to file the suit. The vote was unanimous, with only Director Sid Gibson absent.
The suit asks for a declaratory judgment that "BMA has no jurisdiction in Bandera County to do any of the following:
"1. Inspect private or public water wells;
"2. Enforce any jurisdiction or rules over groundwater or surface water;
"3. Investigate any type of alleged water well violations; or
"4. Promulgate any rules relating to groundwater; or
"5. Exercise any rights as a water control improvement district."
BMA, which has rights to water in Medina Lake to be used largely for irrigation of south Texas farmland, has historically claimed ownership of all lakefront property below the top of the Medina Dam, originally set at 1084 feet above sea level. USGS measurements note that the top of the dam is actually about 10 feet lower.
"The Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District has worked very hard to avoid conflicts with Bexar Medina Atascosa WCID #1, but unfortunately that is no longer possible," said BCRAGD General Manager David Mauk. "BMA's continued opposition to legislation codifying our enabling Act, and their manager's continued public commentary about water wells in Bandera County and claims to ownership of all land below the contour at 1084' above mean sea level, have forced the district to seek judicial clarification of the jurisdiction and authority of each agency around Medina Lake.
"I'm still hopeful the two agencies can work this out and reach an amicable agreement, but even that will require the blessing of the Court. This lawsuit should settle long-standing issues that, frankly, should have been settled decades ago," Mauk said.
According to the Legal Information Institute, Cornell University, a declaratory judgment is "a binding judgment from a court defining the legal relationship between parties and their rights in the matter before the court. A declaratory judgment does not provide for any enforcement, however. In other words, it states the court's authoritative opinion regarding the exact nature of the legal matter without requiring the parties to do anything."