The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 387
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Restoring the Oldest Water Right in Texas
25, 1958.48 Knowing the importance of this ruling as a test case, and
with a total of about $500,000 in damages claimed by the plaintiffs in
the other suits on the court's docket, the San Antonio River Authority
appealed the judgments in both cases. Because of the crowded docket
of the San Antonio appellate court, the Hunt case went to the Court
of Civil Appeals in Corpus Christi.49 That court heard the Hunt case in
early June 1965, and after reviewing the briefs and hearing arguments
the court affirmed the earlier judgment of the 131st District Court
sustaining the Hunt case on every point in 1966.50 For a brief period
following that decision, it appeared that a settlement would be
reached by the SARA and the landowner-irrigators in the pending
lawsuits, but SARA decided to await the outcome of its application for
writ of error to the Supreme Court of Texas in the Hunt case.51A few
months later, in early November 1966, the Supreme Court found no
reversible error in the decision of the intermediate appellate court.
The decision of the district court was therefore upheld. Curtis R.
Hunt could finally collect $8,500 in compensatory damages from the
San Antonio River Authority.52
To all parties involved in the initial class suit, Hunt v. SARA was the
quintessential test case. The outcome of the case was closely watched by
the San Juan Acequia irrigators as well as by SARA authorities as it pro-
ceeded through the judicial system.55 After three rounds of consecutive
defeats in this one case alone, the SARA was finally ready to compromise.
On February 14, 1967, the river authority manager executed a Memoran-
dum of Agreement that was accepted by the attorneys on behalf of the
irrigators. In this settlement, the SARA agreed to pay the irrigators the
sum of $175,000 in cash, maintain the new San Juan Dam permanently at
no cost to the irrigators, and provide a flow of water into the mouth of the
San Juan Acequia commensurate with or pro-rated to the amount of water
flowing in the river above the dam relative to the vested water rights of the
users. In exchange, the San Juan Acequia irrigators agreed to operate and
4 "Land Grant is Upheld," San Antonso Express, Sept. 19, 1964, photocopy in San Juan Acequia
4" Ibid. Also see Ralph G. Langley, "To All Plaintiffs ...," Nov. 4, 1965, letter, San Juan
Acequia folder (SACSLA).
"See SARA v. Hunt, 405 South Western Reporter, 2d Series, 700 (Court of Civil Appeals, Corpus
Christi, 1966, June 16, 1966), reheanng denied Aug. 18, 1966. Also see Ralph G. Langley, "To
All Plaintiffs ...," Nov 4, 1965, letter, and Ralph G. Langley to shareholders of San Juan Ditch
Company, July 27, 1966, letter, San Juan Acequia folder (SACSLA).
1 Ralph G. Langley to shareholders of the San Juan Ditch Company, July 27, 1966, letter, and
Ralph G. Langley to shareholders of San Juan Ditch Company, Sept. 9, 1966, letter, San Juan
Acequia folder (SACSLA).
"'"Landowner Wins Appeal in SARA Case," San Antonzo Light, Nov. 3, 1966, photocopy in San
Juan Acequia folder (SACSLA).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/455/: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.