Irrigation Districts

By: Laurie E. Jasinski

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: March 1, 1995

Irrigation districts were first authorized by the Texas legislature in 1905. The law, however, was replaced in 1913 by a new irrigation act providing that districts could be established upon a two-thirds vote of the qualified tax-paying voters after the county commissioners' court conducted preliminary examinations and called for an election. A board of directors of three to five members, including a president, secretary, and assessor-collector, constituted the governing body. The directors could determine the needed employees and procedures to manage proper irrigation. They could also exercise the right of eminent domain in matters such as constructing canals, pump sites, levees, and drainage ditches. In the latter part of the twentieth century, the governing body consisted of five directors, including a president, vice president, and secretary. An irrigation district could consist of part or all of one or more counties, including a town or city, if the land was classified as agricultural. If more than one county was being considered, the matter of establishing a district fell under the responsibility of the Texas Water Commission. Landholders could sign a petition calling for a proposed district area, provided that they represented more than 50 percent of the land value or that at least fifty persons signed for areas that held more than fifty landholding residents. In 1992 the state had twenty-one irrigation districts. See also WATER LAW.

Gwendolyn Lea Gilchrist, Texas Water Resources Management by Water Districts and River Authorities (M.A. thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1992). West's Texas Statutes and Codes, Vol. 4 (St. Paul, Minnesota: West, 1984).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Laurie E. Jasinski, “Irrigation Districts,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 21, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995