Leonard H. Dougal
Leonard Dougal represents a diverse group of clients in complex permitting and water matters, including Data Centers and other technology companies, power generation companies, real estate developers and special districts. He is also active in water quality and wetlands issues where he represents energy companies, developers and agricultural operators in Clean Water Act permit and compliance matters.
As a recognized authority on emerging water law issues, Leonard is frequently sought after to speak at bar and continuing legal education seminars. He is the author of two chapters in the treatise on Texas water law, “The Essentials of Texas Water Resources”.
Leonard has a special interest in solving water supply issues for clients, including permitting of groundwater, contracting with others for new water supplies, conveying or reserving water rights, or reusing treated wastewater.
Leonard is board certified in Administrative Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also a Texas licensed Professional Engineer (inactive).
B.S., with honors, University of Texas at Austin
J.D., with honors, University of Texas School of Law
Supreme Court of Texas
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
A career highlight for Leonard Dougal was the representation of one of the world’s largest private equity investors involving all aspects of water rights due diligence and transaction terms in the purchase of a national hotel and golf resort property located in Texas. The complicated and high profile transaction involved significant deal points focused on the management of the conveyance of groundwater rights and securing title insurance for the rights.
- Represented a national utility company, as local counsel on permit and regulatory matters, in pre-bankruptcy and financial restructuring for five electric power generation plants located in Texas, with total generation capacity of nearly 3,500 megawatts (MW). Our role included handling the water and environmental permit matters arising from the corporate restructuring.
- Represented owner of a 1000 MW electric generating plant, which utilizes innovative air cooled condensers, in successfully securing a Prop 2 pollution control tax exemption for the condensers from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and defended the exemption on appeal.
- Represented a national mining company regarding NEPA requirements for permitting a new surface mine in Texas, including work on scoping the NEPA application, advice on the extent to consider indirect and cumulative effects, advice on application of the latest guidance on global climate change and assessment of greenhouse gas emissions, and development of the appropriate project alternatives.
- Represented owner of electric generation plant in compliance audit regarding Clean Water Act water quality compliance issues.
- Represented owner of steam electric generating plant at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) related to the proposed listing of cooling water body as thermally-impaired under Clean Water Act Section 303(d).
- Represented owner of 750 MW natural gas fired combined cycle power plant in contested matters involved in obtaining a wastewater discharge permit
- Represented developer of wind-power project to identify and obtain necessary state and federal environmental permits for project development.
Water Quality Permits
- Represented the developer of a new subdivision before the TCEQ to successfully secure a TPDES permit for a proposed new wastewater treatment facility over the objection of a downstream property owner, including mediation of issues prior to a State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) hearing on SB 709 matters.
- Represented the owner of a TPDES permitted facility regarding its application for a major amendment to increase discharge volumes, and successfully defended the application under the SB 709 process at SOAH and secured the permit amendment without changes.
- Represented major hospital system in securing approval from the US Army Corps of Engineers for a Clean Water Act 404 dredge and fill permit associated with an expansion of the health care facility.
- Represented international semiconductor manufacturing facility in securing approval from the US Army Corps of Engineers for a Clean Water Act 404 dredge and fill permit associated with an expansion of the facility, including the terms of an off-site mitigation agreement.
- Represented a large multi-state agricultural operation in a major Clean Water Act enforcement action brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and attorneys general from two states. The matter was resolved by the entry of a Federal Consent Decree with innovative terms which allowed sustainable cattle grazing operations to continue on land-management units containing elevated levels of nutrients. The Consent Decree required the payment of a civil penalty, which was only a fraction of the amount the governments calculated as potential penalties and was substantially reduced from the governments’ initial payment demand.
- Represented a major electric generating facility to amend its TPDES wastewater discharge permit to incorporate modifications regarding its cooling water intake structure, including changing the location of the intake from a river location to an upstream lake. Developed strategy with client for compliance with Clean Water Act §316(b) and TCEQ regulations to successfully obtain permit amendment without the delays associated with a contested case hearing.
- Represented an industrial operation to successfully obtain a major amendment to a TPDES wastewater discharge permit to authorize the construction and operation of a commercial centralized waste treatment facility on the client’s industrial site near the Houston Ship Channel. Due to neighbor protests to the permit application, we developed a legal strategy which resolved the protests in a timely and efficient manner, and the client was able to successfully obtain the permit amendment without an expensive contested case hearing.
- Represented a national developer of resort communities in its successful efforts to obtain a TPDES discharge permit for a new domestic wastewater plant to serve a 3000 acre golf course resort community being developed in Central Texas.
- Represented a major Texas dairy operation in a hotly-contested SOAH permit hearing, where environmental activists and neighbors protested the permit application for the expansion of the dairy. Also, successfully obtained a TPDES water quality permit for the operation, which was located in the sensitive North Bosque River watershed.
- Represented major real estate developer to obtain authorization from TCEQ to use reclaimed water from wastewater treatment plant for golf course and landscaping irrigation. Negotiated terms of water reuse agreement with owners of water treatment plant.
- Defended a Fortune 500 company with multi-state production facilities in a major Clean Water Act enforcement action brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and a State Attorney General. Based upon site inspections, EPA alleged various NPDES permit violations and unpermitted discharges of wastewater. We successfully negotiated a federal Consent Decree to favorably resolve all Clean Water Act allegations.
- Represented landowner in the sale of undeveloped rural land with an existing water production well to reserve groundwater rights and the ability to continue to use the water well.
- Represented holder of significant quantity of surface water rights in multi-million dollar sale of such rights.
- Represented two large water districts in the acquisition of a Surface Water and Treatment System (SWATS) Plant from the Brazos River Authority. The plant is one of the largest in Texas that desalinates brackish surface water to potable standards, and uses both conventional treatment and reverse osmosis technologies. The transaction included work with the clients and bond counsel to use tax-exempt bonds to support the acquisition and to create a new public utility agency for purposes of financing the acquisition.
- Represented clients in contractual negotiations for the long term purchase of raw water from various river authorities and districts, including Sabine River Authority, Tarrant Regional Water District, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, Gulf Coast Water Authority and Brazos River Authority.
- Represented clients before the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) in streamlined expedited release matters related to water and sewer CCNs, including proceedings involving stranded utility assets that were valued pursuant to the Water Code Chapter 13 compensation process.
- Represented water district before the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) in an appeal by customers of a significant water rate increase and, via a mediation process, successfully resolved the appeal in a manner which maintained the revenue requirement of the district necessary to finance critically needed facility improvements.
- Represented clients before the Texas Legislature, drafted and successfully passed special legislation to create the following special utility districts: Stephens Regional SUD, Parker County SUD, Rose Hill SUD, Gastonia-Scurry SUD, Fort Griffin SUD, San Jacinto SUD and Goforth SUD.
- Represented an investor-owned utility to obtain required regulatory approvals of the TCEQ and TWDB and successfully close the purchase of a large non-profit water supply corporation.
- Represented water district in adopting impact fees in compliance with TCEQ rules and Chapter 395, Local Government Code.
- Managed the environmental due diligence for multiple discrete transactions for a private equity client’s purchase of various multi-family and commercial real estate investments. The complexity of the legal work varied by property, and in many cases required the evaluation of the nature and risk associated with complex environmental issues associated with either on-site and off-site sources of contamination at commercial properties.
- Provided strategic legal counsel to a regional infrastructure client who is developing groundwater resources in the Permian Basin in West Texas for use in upstream oil and gas operations, including hydraulic fracturing of long-lateral well bores. The area is one of the hottest oil and gas plays in the United States and water is in short supply due to the arid nature of the region. The work included strategic legal counsel on surface and groundwater permitting and regulatory matters, and advice on condemnation and securing necessary rights- of-way.
- Represented owner of surface water treatment plant, and negotiated acquisition of a new plant site, disposition of existing treatment plant to be decommissioned, and all necessary easements and real property documents.
- Represented a large regional water district in the conveyance of its facilities and customers to an adjacent municipality, secured approval of transfer of the district’s CCN from the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) following a hotly contested hearing, and assisted in the successful defense of the transaction on appeal.
- Lawdragon 500 Leading Environmental & Energy Lawyers, Environmental Law – Water, 2021
- The Best Lawyers in America (Woodward/White Inc.)
- Environmental Law, 2016-2021
- Litigation – Environmental, 2016-2021
- Water Law, 2016-2021
- Lawyer of the Year – Austin, Water Law, 2020
- Natural Resources Law, 2021
- Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, 2014-2020
- Ranked for Environment – Texas
- AV Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
- “Confidentiality of Water Quality Management Plans in Texas,” Jackson Walker Insights (June 23, 2020)
- “U.S. Supreme Court Finds That Clean Water Act’s Permitting Requirements Can Extend to Discharges Through Groundwater,” Jackson Walker Insights (April 24, 2020)
- “EPA Proposes Rule to Exempt Farm Animal Waste Reporting,” Jackson Walker Insights (November 15, 2018)
- Flood Management, Essentials of Texas Water Resources (TexasBarBooks) (2018)
- Drinking Water Supply Issues: Water Utilities—CCNS and Rates, Essentials of Texas Water Resources (TexasBarBooks) (2018)
- Chapter 25 Agriculture, Texas Practice Series – Environmental Law (Thompson/West 2018).
- “Practical Tips for Aspiring Lawyers” presented to The University of Texas School of Law, 279M, Austin, Texas (February 28, 2019)
- “Environmental Due Diligence in Real Estate Transactions Phase I ESAs and Legal Considerations” presented to Private Equity Client (November 2018)
- “Water for Oil — Regulatory Challenges in Supplying Water for Hydraulic Fracturing” presented at the CLE International Texas Water Conference, San Antonio, Texas (October 22, 2018)
- “PUC Rate Case Panel” presented to Texas Water Conservation Association Fall Conference; San Antonio, Texas (October 2018)
- “Water for Oil: Regulatory Challenges in Supplying Water for Hydraulic Fracturing,” CLE International Water Law Institute’s 9th Annual Texas Water Law Conference (October 22, 2018)
- “PUC Rate Case Panel: Emerging Trends,” Panelist, Texas Water Conservation Association (TWCA) Fall Conference (October 18, 2018)
- “Water Utilities: The Latest in CCN Decertifications, Compensation, and Rates,” Moderator, Public Utility Law Section Annual Meeting and Seminar (August 2017)
- “Utilities and CCNs: The Latest Issues at the Public Utility Commission of Texas” presented at the TexasBarCLE 19th Annual Changing Face of Water Rights (February 2017)
- “Current Water Utility CCN Decertification Issues at the Public Utility Commission of Texas” UTCLE 2015 Texas Water Law Institute (October 28, 2015)
- “Brackish Groundwater Regulatory and Policy Issues in Texas,” American Ground Water Trust Annual Texas Groundwater and Aquifer Conference (June 26, 2015)
- “Conflicts, Curtailments and Conversions: Lessons from the Historic Texas Drought,” 25th Annual Texas Environmental Superconference (August 1, 2013)
- State Bar
- Public Utility Law Section, Board Member, 2017-2020
- Environmental and Natural Resources Section, Member
- Austin Bar Association
- Administrative Law Section
- Environmental, Natural Resources, and Water Law Section
- Utility Law Section
- Headwaters at the Comal, Board of Directors, 2016-2020
- United Way of Central Texas, 2016 Tocqueville Society, Volunteer
- Friends of the Libraries and Archives of Texas, Board Member, 2016-2020
- Texas Bar Foundation, Fellow
- Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas, Pro Bono Representation
- University of Texas School of Law – Environmental Law Clinic, Board of Advisors, 2005-2009
- Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Exam Committee – Administrative Law, 2006- 2009
Leonard represents a variety of clients in major energy and commercial projects, including obtaining necessary environmental permits for the construction and operation of power generation facilities. Specifically, he assists clients by securing environmental permitting, including securing water rights, obtaining water quality permits, and creating special districts to provide utility services. He also advises clients on the environmental aspects of real estate transactions, including the workings and benefits of the state voluntary clean-up program, liability under CERCLA, and compliance with the solid waste disposal act.
- Securing water rights for new development
- Negotiating water supply contracts
- Obtaining Clean Water Act permits, including water quality and wetlands permits
- Defending environmental enforcement actions
- Creating water districts and acting as legal counsel on district governance and development matters
- Spearheading transactions involving regionalization of water systems and service areas, including obtaining PUC approvals of changes to retail utility certificates of convenience and necessity (CCNs)