AUSTIN (AP) – The Texas House formalized a landowner’s full ownership of any groundwater below their land.

The measure approved late Monday is a major victory for property rights proponents. Following a procedural vote, the bill will go back to the Senate for review.

Texas is one of the few states left that gives the landowner control over groundwater.

While the state will still be allowed to impose some rules, the landowner’s water rights will be protected by law. Landowners with groundwater may pump and sell their water, and it often represents the majority of a piece of property’s value.

Opponents complain that groundwater should be regulated like rivers, which are considered state property. The present rule allows landowners to pump water without any regard for landowners who live downstream.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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