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Clayton Williams Will Appeal Ruling in Years-long Water Fight

(Jimmy Emerson via Flickr CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Oilman Clayton Williams’ fight to sell water from Pecos County to Midland-Odessa isn’t quite over yet.

Ed McCarthy, an attorney for Williams and his water company Fort Stockton Holdings, said he plans to appeal a judge’s recent ruling against his client in a years-long legal battle between Williams and the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District.

In 2011, the district denied the company’s permit to pump and sell about 47,000 acre-feet of water from Williams’ family land to municipalities in the Permian Basin. In response, Williams filed an appeal that became tangled in legal proceedings through the following years.

But in September, Sixth Regional Judge Stephan Ables ruled against Williams, siding with the district and upholding their denial of the water permit. The judge also ruled that Williams’ company would have to cover the district’s court costs and fees. Williams' attorney says he plans to appeal the judge's final ruling on the matter, issued this month.

There was a hearing on the issue of the court costs scheduled for Tuesday (November 17) in Fort Stockton, but it was cancelled because attorneys for both sides came to the agreement that Fort Stockton Water Holdings would reimburse the district for 100% of its costs in the case.

Still, McCarthy said that will only happen if the district wins the case on appeal.

The district’s attorney Michael Gershon said he estimates those reimbursement costs to be around $150,000.

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.