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How the TCEQ Handles Environmental Complaints

Explains the TCEQ's process for handling environmental complaints.

Once you contact us to report a problem, someone from the TCEQ regional office nearest you will talk with you about the details of your complaint. Please be prepared to tell us details about:

  • the nature of the problem
  • the location of the problem
  • when the problem occurred (date and time)
  • who or what is the source of the problem
  • any information or evidence you may have—particularly eyewitness information, documents or photographs, a videotape, or a water or soil sample (the information or evidence must be credible and relate directly to the incident being reported)

 

Do you have to identify yourself?
“Complaint only” versus a “complaint with information or evidence”
How long will it take us to respond?
What are the next steps?
How will you know what we decide?
What if you are not satisfied?

Do you have to identify yourself?

You can file a complaint with us anonymously—either online or by telephone. However, if you remain anonymous, it may prevent us from reporting back to you on the results of our investigation.

In addition, in some cases our ability to take action may be impaired if you are unwilling to be involved. If you identify yourself, our regional office will discuss this with you when they talk with you about your complaint.

What is the difference between submitting a “complaint only” and submitting a “complaint with information or evidence”?

  • For a “complaint only,” we will listen to your concerns and then conduct an investigation if appropriate. The more details you can provide, the better we may be able to respond. You do not have to tell us who you are or where you live; however, if we do not know who you are, we will not be able to contact you for follow-up information or advise you of results. If enforcement action is appropriate, we will proceed as described under What are the next steps? based on our investigator's information.
  • For a complaint submitted with information or evidence, we will listen to your concerns and review whatever information or evidence you have. In order for us to use information or evidence you submit in an enforcement action, you must follow strict agency procedures for gathering and preserving the information or evidenceyou submit. In order for this information or evidence to withstand legal challenges, you may be asked to do one or more of the following:
    • sign an affidavit
    • testify in court
    • certify that you have followed TCEQ procedures for gathering and handling of physical evidence
    If your information or evidence will be used in an enforcement action, you will be required to disclose your identity.

    Note: Nonspecific information or rumor cannot be considered as credible evidence. If you need help understanding agency procedures for gathering and preserving information or evidence, call us toll-free at 1-888-777-3186.

How long will it take us to respond?

  • If the situation is an immediate threat to public health or the environment, we will respond within 24 hours after we receive your complaint—usually much sooner.
  • Other complaints usually take longer, but we take every complaint seriously, and we will investigate your concerns if it is within our jurisdiction.

What are the next steps?

After we’ve received your complaint and any information or evidence you have, here are the usual steps we take:

  • An investigator will be in touch with you to discuss your complaint and any information or evidence you have.
  • If you want to have further contact with your investigator, be sure to write down:
    • your investigator's name
    • your complaint number
  • In most cases, an on-site investigation will be done to see if any environmental regulations have been violated.
  • If the investigation reveals a violation, we will take appropriate enforcement action to ensure that the violation is corrected. Actions could include issuing an order to correct the problem and assess a fine, or filing a lawsuit against the violator. For more information, read about our enforcement process.

How will you know what we decide?

  • Once we have completed our investigation, which may have been based on information or evidence you provided, we will take the action needed to correct any problems found. We will notify you in writing about the results of our investigation. If you have any questions about this decision, you can contact our investigator.
  • In addition, we will provide you periodic reports on any enforcement action we take, and you will have an opportunity to review and comment on any TCEQ order proposed to resolve the case.
  • You can also track your complaint online.

What if you are not satisfied?

  • Stay in touch with us. If you have the problem again, call and let us know. We may need to re-investigate the situation.
  • You may also contact the agency’s customer-service representative at 1-800-687-4040. That office may be able to assist you with further information about the actions the agency has taken.

The resources of the state of Texas belong to all Texans. Thank you for helping us protect them.

Make an Environmental Complaint
We are available 24 hours every day to receive complaints under our jurisdiction.

Track Complaints and Enforcement
Track the status of complaints and pending enforcements actions.

The Enforcement Process: From Violations to Actions
Explains the various phases of action that can occur when environmental violations are found. Includes discussion of notices of violation, notices of enforcement, agreed orders.