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Rule for Drought or Water Shortage Conditions

Rule to allow suspension and adjustments of water rights by the TCEQ Executive Director. TCEQ’s Sunset Bill, House Bill (HB) 2694, Regular Session Legislature, 2011, Section 5.03, adds Section 11.053 to the Texas Water Code, effective September 1, 2011.

Implementing the Rule

Water Rights staff are working on the logistics for a second stakeholder meeting on the curtailment rule. The meeting date and the draft FAQ will be posted in the near future. 

TCEQ held a stakeholder meeting to discuss the process for implementing this rule on July 10, 2012. The webcast for this meeting can be viewed at

Rule Development

Chapter 36, Suspension or Adjustment of Water Rights during Water Shortage, was adopted on April 11, 2012 and the rule became effective on May 3, 2012.



Public Comment on Rule

    • TCEQ held a rule stakeholder meeting on August 11, 2011 to obtain input prior to developing rule language.  The webcast from this meeting can be viewed at
    • Commission public comment meeting held December 1, 2011
    • Commission accepted written comments until December 5, 2011
    • Response to comments in preamble of adopted rule
    • Comments received on the rule proposal may be found at:


New Texas Water Code Section 11.053

The TCEQ Executive Director may by order, in accordance with the priority of water rights established in the Water Code, during a time of drought or emergency shortage of water, suspend or adjust water rights.  The Executive Director must consider several factors in deciding whether to issue this Order.


(a) During a period of drought or other emergency shortage of water, as defined by Commission rule, the Executive Director by order may, in accordance with the priority of water rights established by Section 11.027:

1.      temporarily suspend the right of any person who holds a water right to use the water; and

2.      temporarily adjust the diversions of water by water rights holders.

(b)  The Executive Director in ordering a suspension or adjustment under this section shall ensure that an action taken:

1.      maximizes the beneficial use of water;

2.      minimizes the impact on water rights holders;

3.      prevents the waste of water;

4.      takes into consideration the efforts of the affected water rights     holders to develop and implement the water

5.      conservation plans and drought contingency plans required by this chapter;

6.      to the greatest extent practicable, conforms to the order of preferences established by Section 11.024; and

7.      does not require the release of water that, at the time the order is issued, is lawfully stored in a reservoir under water rights associated with that reservoir.

(c) The Commission shall adopt rules to implement this section, including rules:

1.      defining a drought or other emergency shortage of water for purposes of this section; and

2.      specifying the:

A. conditions under which the Executive Director may issue an order under this section;

B. terms of an order issued under this section, including the maximum duration of a temporary suspension or adjustment under this section; and

C. procedures for notice of, an opportunity for a hearing on, and the appeal to the Commission of an order issued under this section.