Owning property with mineral rights means that no one can go on the land and start drilling for oil or some other desired resource without the owners permission or a written contract for a set amount of time. If someone owns property without the mineral rights then whoever wants to go on the land and drill for oil or a desired resource can, providing they get permission or have a contract with the person who does own the mineral rights.
The only thing that is required of people drilling on the property is that they put the surface back the way it was or at the very most clean up the area. Its pretty close too impossible to drill underneath the surface and put it back like it was found and many times the area is left without any cleanup at all. The only one at this point who is going to be unhappy is the one who owns everything above the surface.
Mineral rights are a big asset to have in safeguarding what could happen to land if the rights are left unattained, but what about property that has water underneath the surface? Typically a person who owns land with mineral rights owns the water underneath. A property owner can drill for that water and use it any way they want. They may want to irrigate a crop, water animals or use it as a drinking source for themselves.
There are a few exceptions that can exclude or limit the use of water by landowners from groundwater. Those exceptions live in groundwater districts. People living in groundwater districts have restrictions placed on them because many people share the same groundwater. The groundwater will usually flow through several counties and is a source of water to those who reside in those counties. Groundwater can be compared to cities and towns that get their water from a lake or river. In those cities and towns water cannot be drilled for and used because the city provides the water and charges for it.
In Texas, some people living in groundwater districts feel they have a right to drill for water on their property and use as much of it as they want any way they want. Restrictions are placed on groundwater to keep it from getting used up. Much in the same way that cities and towns restrict water during droughts.
Back in June 28, 1996 the Edwards Aquifer Authority in Texas was given the right to put into action a permit system for those living in the groundwater districts it serves. Through what is termed a “Historical Period,” a defined amount of time set by the Edwards Aquifer Authority, property owners that had been withdrawing groundwater could apply for a permit to use the same amount of water. For example, someone irrigating a pecan orchard could get a permit to continue irrigating the pecan orchard. If a property owner had previously not been using groundwater they can’t use it even though they may claim ownership. In order to access the water, a regular permit will have to be bought off the open market. The withdrawal location will have to be changed to the owner’s property.