Bills, Bills, and More Bills: Water Quality and the 86th Legislative Session

The Legislative Session is under way and we have passed the March 8 bill filing deadline. Bills covering domestic septage and biosolids land application, produced water discharge, ASR, brackish desal, and discharge issues in the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone area have all been filed. As anticipated, flood planning, mitigation, remediation, funding and preparedness are taking center stage for water issues.

For a complete list of bills WEAT is tracking, go to . For a quick reference by topic, see the list below.

Produced Water Discharge Bills

HB 2545 Guillen – Amends tax code to provide tax incentives to certain desal facilities. Facility permit holder gets credits for producing freshwater at desal facility and credits for mineral extraction. Broadly, this bill incentivizes keeping produced water in the water cycle through desal.

HB 2771 Lozano / SB 1585 Hughes – These companion bills are the overarching regulatory bills covering the authority to permit discharge of produced water. The TCEQ would be given permitting authority under the TPDES program to issue discharge permits for produced water, hydrostatic test water, and gas plant effluent resulting from the certain oil and gas activities. The effluent must meet the water quality standards established by the TCEQ and federal standards.

HB 3067 Ashby – Changes tax code to incentivize desal of salty produced water and requires Railroad Commission to set adopt rules for program. If the produced water TDS is 90,000 milligrams per liter or greater and the water is treated to achieve federal NPDES and TPDES standards for discharge, the facility in which the water is treated receives tax credits, which are to be calculated by the comptroller. This bill requires RRC to adopt rules including registration process for permit holders and provide a monthly report that includes the metered volume of produced water that is recycled, the TDS concentration prior to recycling, and the volume of the water discharged into the water of the state or sold.

HB 3246 Darby – Relates to treating produced water for beneficial use – reads as a chain of custody bill.

HB 3320 Zwiener – Requires O&G companies located over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone to submit to TCEQ a water pollution abatement plan for the facility.

HB 3717 Dominguez / SB 1999 Hinojosa – These companion bills create a tax credit program incentivizing the treatment and ASR of produced water. Defines terms and establishes that O&G producer is entitled to tax credit if 1) producer provides to an ASR project operator that has a TDS concentration of 90,000 milligrams or greater / liter or greater 2) the project operator treats the water for injection and shall not degrade nature groundwater and complies with any fed and state registration or permit requirements for treating and injecting produced water. Requires TCEQ to adopt a registration process for operators participating in tax credit program. Operators must report monthly to TCEQ on volume in barrels of produced water received and treated, the TDS concentration, and volume injected.

HB 4380 Herrero – This bill creates an environmental task force advisory committee, which is tasked with reviewing the RRC’s regulatory structure and rules including any memorandum of understanding between the commission and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality relating to the RRC's environmental regulatory functions and the handling and disposal of oil and gas waste.

Biosolids and Domestic Septage Land Application

The Biosolids bills are refiles from last session addressing domestic septage issues specific to the Burns and Birdwell’s districts, as well as the grit and grease addition to Class B biosolids that impacted the

HB 3318 Burns / SB 1724 Birdwell – Creates permit requirements for domestic septage like those of

Class B including the requirement to obtain a permit rather than authorization for land application of domestic septage and pathogen and vector reduction treatment like that of class B.

HB 3319 Burns / SB 1723 – Defines domestic septage and requires soil monitoring samples for land application unit to be collected by inspectors for domestic septage sites and Class B sites.

HB 3930 Morrison / SB 2070 Menendez –Prohibits land application of grit and grease trap waste

Water Quality Bills

HB 817 King, Tracy(D)/SB 655 Flores – Discharge bans for Nueces River portion of Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.

HB 944 Dutton – Signage requirements for wastewater and injection well permits

HB 1267 Wray(R) /SB 530 Birdwell(R) – Raises maximum water body pollution penalties up to $5,000 from $1,000

HB 1671 Huberty, Dan(R) – Expands pilot program regarding quarrying in water quality protection of certain areas to include the West Fork of the San Jacinto River and its contributing watershed.

HB 2003 Leach/SB 970 Creighton – Would shift approval authority of certain P.E. contracts from state Comptroller to Attorney General.

HB 2023 Metcalf/SB 942 Johnson – Broadens provisions of Clean Water SRF eligibility and remove 20 year loan term limit.

HB 2426 Reynolds /SB 1498 Zaffirini– Increases size of on-site septic system from 5,000 to 10,000GPD and changes permitting requirements.

HB 2948 Guillen - Creates an advisory panel to study BMPs and funding mechanisms for prevention/mitigation of windblown and waterborne litter in communities.

HB 3035 Zwiener/ HB 4025 Rodriguez – Amends TCEQ penalty assessment for compliance violators

HB 4067 Murr - Establishes a work group to study and report on certain issues related to the removal of wet debris.

HB 4110 Zwiener - Requires the TCEQ to conduct a study to evaluate the regulation of on-site sewage disposal systems in the recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer, the effects of on-site sewage disposal system on the recharge zone, and BMPs for the regulation of on-site sewage disposal system in the recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer.

HB 4116 Zwiener - Requires TCEQ to create an escrow account for TPDES program permit holders to deposit and withdraw if violations occur.

Spill Bills

HB 3805 Paul / SB 2394 – Requires spills to be reported to county judge in which the spill or discharge occurred as soon as possible and no later than 24 hours. Existing spill exemptions apply.

SB 1994 Birdwell – Requires spill to be reported to “local government officials” as soon as possible and no later than 24 hours. Existing spill exemptions apply.

Potpourri of Bills of Interest

HB 245 Farrar - requirement to post copy of permit application online

HB 2021 Metcalf - Requires River Authorities to hold bond elections prior to issuing revenue bonds.

HB 3560 Farrar - Creates a pilot program for Harris County to reuse any form of wastewater at a county facility for subsurface irrigation and toilet and urinal flushing.

SB 2062 Menendez - Relating to the publication of pathogen-related data from river basins by the TCEQ.

HB 3261 Ramos / SB 2063 Menendez - Relating to the use of green stormwater infrastructure in new state buildings.

HB 4385 Oliverson – Posting of info on municipal utility districts websites

HB 2527 Leach / SB 1732 Paxton – Requires water districts make audio and video recordings of open meetings available on the internet

HB 1229 Shaheen(R) – Allows internet postings in place of newspaper notices

You can check out the full bill tracking list on WEAT’s legislative affairs page. There are a number of environmental justice bills aimed at public notice and community involvement in placement of facilities. Notice of intent to obtain a permit, permit postings, and audio and video recordings of water district meetings brought about filings. A number of lead bills have also been filed. Contested case and affected person bills as well as RA sun setting recommendation bills have been filed in large numbers. Utility rate bills aimed at affordability and cybersecurity bills have been seen in large numbers as well. And lastly but certainly not least, Lyle Larson filed one of the most talked about bills taken up as a metaphorical olive branch between Governor Abbott and Larson, Chair of House Natural Resources, is HB 412 requiring University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University to play a non conference, regular season game against each other.

Stay tuned for the final shake out of bills in the 86th Texas Legislative Session and be sure to subscribe to the WEAT’s Legislative Roundup List-serve. WEAT will also host a Legislative webinar on June 12, 2019 where we’ll recap the session and cover all of the excitement of the 140 day regular session. Until next time!

Get our Updates