An ongoing lawsuit between the San Jacinto River Authority and the city of Conroe over a surface water rate dispute is now headed to the Texas Supreme Court, according to an Oct. 4 news release from the SJRA.
The case before the Supreme Court comes after the Court of Appeals for the Third District of Texas August 2018 in favor of the SJRA on three issues in a lawsuit related to the agency’s groundwater reduction plan, or GRP, contracts, according to the SJRA.
The court of appeals ruling affirmed a lower court ruling and allowed the original trial court to issue a fast-track legal proceeding to decide the legal validity of the contracts and the 2017 GRP water rates, according to the SJRA.
The SJRA sells surface water from Lake Conroe to select entities—including Conroe—as a part of its GRP to comply with groundwater regulations in Montgomery County set by the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District.
The city of Conroe entered into the GRP contract in May 2010, but the city approved a resolution in 2016 stating that the SJRA was overcharging and the city would refuse to pay surface water rates, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.
The Texas Supreme Court has now voted to hear the appeal and will now decide whether the SJRA can settle the validity of all GRP contracts on an expedited schedule, according to the SJRA.
“If the Supreme Court rules in our favor, all they’re saying is you get to keep your trial in Travis County, and you get to use this expedited statue to hear the trial, which theoretically means the trial should happen faster,” SJRA General Manager Jace Houston said. “Even if the court ruled against us, all that means is we’re still going to go back to trial, but we won’t get to use this expedited process. We’ll have to use a normal contract dispute lawsuit.”
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Jan. 9. Houston said it could take between three to six months to issue a ruling.