Sitting for the court: Justice Paul W. Green, Justice Nathan L. Hecht, Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson, Justice Phil Johnson, Justice David Medina, Justice Dale Wainwright, Justice Don R. Willett, Justice Scott A. Brister, Justice Harriet O'Neill
Edwards Aquifer Authority, et al. v. Chemical Lime Ltd.
from Comal County and the Third District Court of Appeals, Austin
For petitioners: Mike Hatchell, Austin
For respondent: Robert B. Gilbreath, Dallas
The Supreme Court will hear arguments of whether act declared constitutional became effective when opinion was issued or when mandate was. The principal issue is whether the Edwards Aquifer Act became effective when the Court issued its 1996 opinion declaring the act constitutional in Barshop v. Medina County Underground Water Conservation District or when it issued the Barshop mandate. Chemical Lime challenged the authority’s denial of Chemical Lime’s water permit as an existing user after the authority ruled the application had been submitted too late. Alternatively, Chemical Lime argues, if it missed the deadline to file, it substantially complied with the deadline. In this case the Edwards Aquifer Authority rejected the company’s historical water use four years after the company filed it. The company filed its application 18 days after a deadline the authority set after the Court’s Barshop decision. The trial court determined the December 30, 1996, deadline was invalid and corrected it to mid-February 1997. The Austin Court of Appeals in this case held that the Edwards Aquifer Act became effective six months after the mandate issued, not six months after the Barshop opinion. The San Antonio Court of Appeals held in a separate case that the deadline properly was set from when the opinion issued.