Vanessa Puig-Williams

Director, Texas Water Program

Work

Areas of expertise:
Water policy, water law, environmental law, groundwater management, conservation transactions, stakeholder engagement, endangered species

As director of the Texas Water program, Vanessa Puig-Williams leads EDF’s efforts to advance sustainable groundwater management in Texas. The program focuses on enabling the state’s groundwater conservation districts to effectively manage groundwater resources, considering the long-term needs of all users. This includes rural communities, surface water users, and ecosystems that depend on groundwater or groundwater-dependent rivers and streams.

A Texas native, Vanessa is passionate about educating partners, funders and people about why Texas must sustainably manage our water resources to ensure a resilient future.

Background

Vanessa Puig-Williams joined EDF in 2020, bringing more than a decade of experience working alongside conservation and landowner groups to protect critical groundwater resources in Texas.

Before joining EDF, Vanessa served as executive director and general counsel of the Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association, a nonprofit focused on legal and policy initiatives to protect groundwater resources in the Hill Country. She spearheaded consensus-based legislation at the Texas Water Conservation Association and ultimately at the Legislature, initiating the development of stakeholder-driven science related to groundwater and surface water interactions in the Blanco River watershed, and developing joint funding proposals with other conservation groups. She has served on numerous boards, water associations and stakeholder committees, including the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, the Austin One Water Working Group Onsite Water Reuse Subcommittee and the Travis County Citizens Bond Advisory Committee. Vanessa is a strong believer that water unites Texas.

Vanessa also spent three years litigating environmental enforcement suits as an assistant state attorney general.

Education

  • J.D., University of Texas Law School, Austin
  • B.A., History, and B.A., Geography, University of Texas, Austin

Publications

Why You Should Care About Groundwater Pumping in Hays County, Austin American-Statesman, June 25, 2019

The Endangered Species Act and Texas Law of Water Resources, Essentials of Texas Water Resources, (6th Edition)

Groundwater Conflicts in Unregulated Areas, Texas Water Journal, November 2016

Protecting Species or Hindering Development: How the Endangered Species Act Impacts Development on Western Public Lands, Environmental Law Reporter, November 2016

The Endangered Springflow Act, KBH Energy Center at the University of Texas, January 2015

The Conflict between Endangered Species and the State Water Plan, KBH Energy Center at the University of Texas, April 2014

Implementing SB 3, Adopting Environmental Flows in Texas, KBH Energy Center at the University of Texas, September 2013