Originally Posted by -Dman100-
My first question is if anyone knows whether this organization has the authority to require me to cap the well. If so, under what legal authority do they have and where could I obtain further information?
The fastest and easiest way to determine how best to handle this situation is to do your own legal research, which isn't at all hard to do.
I note that you are in Austin, Texas. Phone the local Austin (or Dallas or Houston) University and ask the receptionist at the Faculty of Law whether that university has a Law library. It almost certainly will. Phone up the Law library and ask to talk to any of the research librarians. Ask that woman or man where you can search for and read the judges decisons and reasons for decisions online (if possible) for your local municipal court. They should be available online, but will always be available in print at that Law library or at the court house itself.
Since you pay taxes, you are entitled to use the facilities at the Universities supported by public funds, including getting help finding cases similar to yours from the librarians at the University's libraries, including the one for the Faculty of Law.
I don't know if your American courts follow the same rules as our Canadian courts, but in a Canadian court the judge will always cite the specific section of the applicable law or by-law that is at issue in the case.
Any librarian at any university law library will be happy to give you advice on how to use the Search Engine on any database of court cases to find specific cases similar to your own.
Alternatively, simply ask The Edwards Aquifer Authority telephone receptionist to patch you through to anyone in their legal department, and ask them what section of what state law or city bylaw requires unused and uncapped wells be capped or temporarily capped or restored to service. Then, just pop down to your local university's law library and ask the nice lady to tell you where you can read the text of court decisions dealing with that section of that law or by-law.
If you know what the law is called and the section at issue, any competent law librarian can find all the court cases pertaining to it, and all the subsequent cases that cited and relied on the decision in those cases.
Just contacting your local law librarian is your next step, really.
You can get the text of any Texas state law here:
Texas Constitution and Statutes - Home
just click on the "+" sign next to Texas Statutes
You can get the municipal codes for the City of Austin here:
American Legal Publishing: Online Library
Just click either "Frames" or "No Frames" (your preference) to determine what format the web page takes, and you'll be presented with a search engine in which you can type in "water well" or "water code" or stuff like that.
You should be able to read the case facts and the judge's decisions in other cases that went to court concerning uncapped water wells here:
Texas Courts Online (TCO) - Web Central
(I was unable to find a link to online decisions, but your local law librarian may know where they hide the court decisions on this web page.)
If you were to hire a lawyer to represent you, what he'd do is exactly what I'm telling you to do. That is, read court cases where the facts were similar to your situation (where you were unaware of the existance of the uncapped water well when you purchased the property) and find out from Edwards Aquifer Authority if the previous owner had been made aware of that water well, and if so, who is responsible for the cost of capping the well if he never told you about it at the time of purchase.