Requirements for Reclaimed Water
The rules in Title 30 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 210 apply to producers, providers, and users of reclaimed water.
What is reclaimed water?
Reclaimed water is treated wastewater that is safe and suitable for a purpose that would use other water resources. It is classified according to the source from which it originated. It may come from either domestic or industrial activities.
Municipal reclaimed water is treated water that is primarily derived from permitted sewage treatment plants. These plants primarily treat human waste and wastewater from activities such as washing, bathing, and food preparation. These wastes are then treated to the extent at which they are safe and suitable for reuse as reclaimed water. Reuse of untreated wastewater is prohibited.
Industrial reclaimed water is from a non-domestic or non-municipal source. Certain industrial wastes, such as those containing toxins or biological agents, cannot be used for reclaimed water applications. You can find the specific types of industrial wastewaters that are eligible and ineligible for reuse listed in 30 TAC 210 Subchapter E of the reclaimed water rules.
What can I use reclaimed water for?
Municipal reclaimed water may be substituted for many applications that would otherwise deplete current and future drinking water resources. Its use is divided into two “Types” that are defined according to whether people are likely to have contact with it during or after application.
You can apply Type I reclaimed water where public contact is likely. Examples of Type I uses include watering:
- public parks
- school yards
- residential lawns
- athletic fields
You also can use Type I reclaimed water for:
- fire protection
- food-crop irrigation
- application to pastures grazed by milking animals
We may approve the use of Type I reclaimed water to supply recreational off-channel lakes or ponds and to flush toilets or urinals.
Type I reclaimed water may be used for either a Type I or Type II use.
You can apply Type II reclaimed water in remote, restricted, controlled, or limited-access areas where human contact is unlikely. This water is sometimes used at sod or tree farms, and along limited-access highway rights of way. You may use Type II reclaimed water for:
- irrigation water that is not likely to contact edible portions of a crop
- animal feed-crop irrigation that does not involve milking operations
- supply to non-recreational water bodies
Entities may use Type II reclaimed water for:
- soil compaction
- dust control
- cooling tower makeup water
- certain applications at wastewater treatment facilities
We may also approve an entity’s use of Type II reclaimed water for hydraulic fracturing.
Reclaimed water treated to Type II standards may only be used for Type II applications.
Industrial reclaimed water use:
Industrial reclaimed water can be authorized on two “Levels.” These levels are classified according to the process of how they are generated and whether they will be used on-site or off-site.
You may use industrial reclaimed water for:
- landscape irrigation,
- soil compaction,
- fire protection,
- dust suppression,
- impoundment maintenance
- irrigation for non-food crops
We may also approve the use of industrial reclaimed water in hydraulic fracturing.
How do I get authorization to be a producer, provider, or user of reclaimed water?
Municipal Reclaimed Water:
- We must give you written approval before you can provide Type I and Type II municipal reclaimed water to another party for reuse.
- You must submit Form TCEQ-20427 to apply for reuse by another party. Follow the form’s instructions and the rules in 30 TAC 210 Subchapters A-D to submit a complete application. Note that the application requires attachments such as a water reuse contract and an operation and maintenance plan.
- Producers of Type I and Type II domestic or municipal reclaimed water must sample and analyze the water before distribution.
Industrial Reclaimed Water:
- A producer of Level I industrial reclaimed water is authorized to use the water on-site without notification or approval by the TCEQ. Sampling of Level I reclaimed waters used on-site is not required unless the water comes from cooling tower blowdown.
- We must give you written approval before you reuse Level I water off-site, as well as before the reuse of Level II water. Use Form TCEQ-20094 to apply for reuse of industrial reclaimed water. Follow the form’s instructions and the rules in 30 TAC 210 Subchapters A, B and E to submit a complete application.
- You must sample Level II water to certify its applicability as reclaimed water.
- Special requirements apply if either municipal or industrial reclaimed water use is planned within the Edwards Aquifer area.
- Producers may be liable for misapplication of any reclaimed water by users if they do not follow all TCEQ requirements, as stated in 30 TAC 210.6
- The TCEQ must approve any changes to a use that has received prior approval.
- Contact the TCEQ Wastewater Permitting Program for more information.
If I store it, how must I containerize the reclaimed water and what are the rules regarding storage?
Unless your storage site is a leak-proof fabricated tank, all reclaimed water that is initially delivered must be placed in a lined pond that meets engineering specifications in 30 TAC 210.23 and the General Requirements in 30 TAC 210.22
Can I send reclaimed water to an end user on the same pathway used for wastewater effluent?
If you have provided notification and received written approval from the TCEQ for reuse of reclaimed water under Chapter 210, you will still need to obtain a separate water-right authorization if the water is discharged to any conveyance that can be considered a state watercourse before it reaches the user’s intake. If the reclaimed water is transferred or piped directly to the user or to a holding pond or vessel and never enters a state watercourse, then it is not state water and is not subject to water-rights restrictions.
Do drought conditions or senior water-right calls affect my use of municipal reclaimed water?
Use of reclaimed water as an alternative water source may be part of a public water system's drought contingency plan. Therefore, during drought, applications for municipal reclaimed water use may increase. If reclaimed water does not become state water (never enters a state watercourse), then it is not subject to water-right restrictions or water-right calls.
Can I use a pond that was formerly used for reclaimed water to water livestock?
If you used a water-holding pond in a way that was subject to our jurisdiction (initial holding pond) and it has since been emptied, the pond is no longer regulated and you can use it to water livestock, as long as future use of the pond (subsequent holding pond) will not violate a surface water quality standard or affect groundwater. If that holding pond was used to supply reclaimed water for oil and gas well development, its reuse is subject to rules and regulations of the Railroad Commission of Texas. You can contact them at 512-463-2741, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I use reclaimed water for drilling and hydraulic fracturing?
You must obtain an authorization from us to reuse municipal reclaimed water (Type I and Type II), but not to reuse industrial reclaimed water. 30 TAC 210.22(d) and 210.5(b) require the protection of groundwater. During drilling operations, prior to installation of surface casing, groundwater could be harmed by reuse of reclaimed water, and we will not approve its use. Once surface casing is in place and groundwater is protected, the TCEQ may approve reuse of municipal reclaimed water in oil and gas operations. An authorization under 30 TAC, Chapter 210, Subchapter E is not needed for reuse of industrial reclaimed water.
The Railroad Commission of Texas has primary regulatory jurisdiction over the oil and gas industry. You can contact them at 512-463-2741, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Where can I find more information and assistance?
The TCEQ's Small Business and Local Government Assistance Section offers free, confidential help to small businesses and local governments working to comply with state environmental regulations. Call us at 800-447-2827 or visit our Web page at TexasEnviroHelp.org.