Regulatory Processes and Current Issues

Texas Regulatory Process Overview

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) develops and enforces federal and state rules governing the operation of wastewater facilities in Texas. Rule changes can come from new laws passed by the Texas Legislature or Congress, as well as policy changes from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). TCEQ rules can also be changed through petitions from concerned citizens as well as TCEQ staff initiated changes, such as proposed changes to biosolids rules. WEAT maintains strong relationships with Water Quality Division staff at TCEQ and also works with EPA Region 6, the region that includes Texas.

Current Key Regulatory Issues (State and Federal)
  • TCEQ Biosolids Rule Revisions
  • Texas Surface Water Quality Standards – Every three years, TCEQ solicits comments on potential revisions to the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards, promulgated in Chapter 307 of the Texas Administrative Code. WEAT and TACWA submitted joint comments in October 2017. The 2018 TSWQS became effective as of March 1, 2018 and can be found here.
  • Federal Dental Amalgam Rule - TCEQ is required to adopt new federal pretreatment rules for dental offices that discharge wastewater to publically owned wastewater utilities. Click here for the information on TCEQ’s pending rule proposal. Dental offices must submit one-time compliance report information to their utility or in some cases to TCEQ.
  • TPDES permit expiration date changes – A state law passed in 2017 removes the requirement that Texas wastewater discharge permits had to have the same expiration date for discharges into the same water bodies. TCEQ is in the process of finalizing this change that will be implemented over time as TPDES permits are renewed and new permits are issued.
  • TDS Coalition - The Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Coalition, composed of WEAT members, is developing recommendations for improvements in the ways TDS, chlorides and sulfates are regulated by TCEQ and EPA. The Coalition is specifically looking at national inconsistencies in how these limits are set, as well as implementation standards, calculation methods used, and scenarios when permit limit exemptions might be needed, especially in times of drought. Other areas of focus include the application of TDS, chloride and sulfate standards to water body segments, consideration of water body uses, and the evaluation of anti-degradation provisions. The goal of the Coalition is to provide scientific-based information, in coordination with TACWA and NACWA, to prepare for the next round of TCEQ’s Water Quality Standards revisions, as well as to seek potential revisions to implementation procedures.

As a result of state legislation that was considered (but not passed) in 2017, TCEQ initiated a review of the Texas Administrative Code Chapter 312 rules that govern the storage, management and land application of biosolids and domestic septage. Specific issues being reviewed include buffer zones, mixing grease and grit trap waste with biosolids, and notification requirements, among others. TCEQ sought informal comments in the fall of 2017 but has not yet proposed any specific rule revisions.  WEAT is closely monitoring this process and submitted initial comments that can be viewed here. TCEQ has not publicized an official timeline yet for the next steps in this process.

Federal Regulation

For more information visit our national partners at the Water Environment Federation and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.

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