Water Law and Water Utility Matters

Mr. Ramirez advises corporations, municipalities, water supply entities and individuals in acquiring, protecting and managing water resources.  As the demand for limited water supplies continues to rise, Mr. Ramirez helps his clients stay abreast of competing interests and demands.  He has hands-on experience in acquiring water service and developing enhanced supplies, such as assisting commercial enterprises in assuring they have reliable sources of water to operate and even expand.  He has decades of experience in working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the agency with jurisdiction over surface water rights, having once been a Deputy Executive Director at the TCEQ’s predecessor agency.  He has worked on some of the more complicated water rights issues that have arisen at the TCEQ in recent years, such as the debate over who has the legal right to the return flows that emerge from discharge facilities, and how to sort out the complicated issues presented by the Application By The Brazos River Authority For Water Use Permit No. 5852 (TCEQ Docket No. 2005-1490-WR, SOAH Docket No. 582-10-4184.

He also represents clients in important water utility matters, especially acquiring, expanding and decertifying Certificates of Convenience and Necessity (CCN), an area now regulated by the Texas Public Utility Commission.    He wrote the briefs on the prevailing side of two  pivotal water utility opinions issued by the Third Court of Appeals in Austin, Creedmoor-Maha WSC v. TCEQ, 307 S.W. 3d. 505 (Tex. App. 2010) and Texas General Land Office v. Crystal Clear WSC, 449 S.W. 3d 130 (Tex. App. 2014). Both cases uphold recent statutory amendments to the Texas Water Code that authorize certain landowners to opt out of the service area of existing CCN holders, freeing the landowners to acquire water service from an alternative provider.    As the state continues to grow, and as urban areas continue to expand outward, these statutory provisions are crucial in getting water service to the geographic areas where it is needed.

In sum, Mr. Ramirez offers his clients decades of experienced advice, counsel and hands-on regulatory management of regulatory management of water rights and water utilities matters at both the regulatory agencies and the courts.

Environmental Law

Mr. Ramirez also maintains an active practice in the field of Environmental Law; he began his professional career as an EPA Attorney.  He has developed a particular proficiency in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), especially regarding transportation projects. He has provided advice and counsel on approximately 40 NEPA documents (Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements), and has represented clients in at least six separate judicial challenges to NEPA documents in federal district courts, prevailing in all of them.  He has spoken numerous times on the legal fundamentals of the NEPA document (and the NEPA process) to working professionals in that field. 

He also practices in the intricacies of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).  He has advised clients through formal and informal consultation under Section 7 of the ESA, and, on behalf of an industrial trade association intervening in support of the State, actively participated in the TAP v. Shaw lawsuit, where plaintiffs sued the State of Texas alleging a “take” of an endangered species (Whooping Cranes) because of lawful diversions of surface water under state-issued water permits.  While plaintiffs prevailed in U.S. District Court, the 5th Court of Appeals (5th. Cir, 13-40317, December 2014) reversed because of proximate cause.

Mr. Ramirez began his legal career working on hazardous waste issues especially matters pertaining to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and remains active in those areas today.