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Emergency Preparedness Plan Homepage

In 2009, as required by SB 361 (Senate Bill 361, 81st Legislature, 2009), the TCEQ amended the Texas public drinking water rules to include the EPP requirements for water systems with customers in Harris County. Further revisions are currently required by HB 805 (House Bill 805, 82nd Legislature, 2011). SB 361 (Senate Bill 361, 81st Legislature, 2009), required affected water systems that existed as of December 1, 2009 with customers in Harris County to have an Emergency Preparedness Plan approved by March 1, 2010 and implemented by July 1, 2010. HB 805 (House Bill 805, 82nd Legislature, 2011), requires affected systems in Fort Bend County and systems that serve water in Harris County which began serving water between December 1 ,2009 and November 1, 2011 to have an Emergency Preparedness Plan approved by February 1, 2012 and implemented by June 1, 2012. New systems in Fort Bend County and Harris County that will begin serving water after November 1, 2011, must have an approved EPP before serving water to customers.

What is an Emergency Preparedness Plan and What Does It Do?

An Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) is a packet of information that a water system submits to TCEQ for approval. The plan contains information about how the water system will operate under emergency conditions. The plan will identify how the system will maintain a water pressure of 35 pounds per square inch (psi) throughout the distribution system when the power has been off for more than 24 hours during an emergency. Also, the plan has useful information, such as emergency phone numbers.

Emergency Preparedness Plan Template  

Why is an Emergency Preparedness Plan Required?

During Hurricane Ike in 2008, residents in the Houston area were without power and water. In 2009, as required by SB 361 (Senate Bill 361, 81st Legislature, 2009), the TCEQ amended the Texas public drinking water rules to include the EPP requirements for water systems with customers in Harris County. Further revisions are currently required by HB 805 (House Bill 805, 82st Legislature, 2011). Water systems with customers in Harris County and Fort Bend Counties are now required to develop an EPP to restore water service following natural disasters. An EPP is a water system’s plan to provide water during an extended power outage.

Other Agencies That Require a Copy of Approved EPP

Affected Utilites are also required to submit their EPP to their County Judge, Office of Emergency Management, the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Divions of Emergency managment of the Governor.

update.gif Who Is Affected By This Requirement?

Currently, water systems with customers in Harris County and Fort Bend County are affected. This is because Harris County has a population greater than 3.3 million residents and Fort Bend County is adjacent to Harris County and has greater than 550,000 residents.

What if My System is Outside of Harris and Fort Bend Counties, But Serves Customers Within The Affected Areas?

Systems that reside outside of Harris and Fort Bend Counties but still provide water to customers within Harris and Fort Bend Counties will be required to submit and implement an adoptable EPP.

What Types of Water Systems Are Affected?

All systems that have residential customers or serve residential-type customers in Harris and Fort Bend Counties are affected. Therefore, systems that provide water to customers that are either full-time or temporary residents of their water system will be affected. Examples include:

    • Public Water Systems with billed customers
    • Hospitals
    • Assisted living homes
    • Prisons and jails
    • Hotels, motels, resorts, and other places with overnight accommodations
    • Parks and recreations areas with overnight camping access

What Types of Water Systems Are Not Affected?

If your water system is within Harris and Fort Bend Counties and is a non-community system without overnight accommodations, you will not be affected by this requirement. Examples include:

    • Schools (without dormitories)
    • Daycare Centers
    • Restaurants
    • Industrial plants
    • Office Buildings
    • Banks
    • Churches

* Note: the TCEQ will review EPPs for systems who voluntarily submit emergency preparedness plans.

Is There Assistance Available?

Yes. If you need assistance preparing the EPP, help is available to you.

    • You may reach the Emergency Preparedness Plan review team by calling the EPP hotline at 512-239-EPP1 (3771).
    •  You may email the Emergency Preparedness Plan review team at PDWEPP@tceq.texas.gov.
    • TCEQ can also provide access to our Financial, Managerial, and Technical (FMT) contractors to assist in achieving compliance with the requirement. The FMT program sends trained individuals to your location and helps water and wastewater system comply with TCEQ regulations. Through a contract with skilled professionals, we offer free financial, managerial, and technical assistance to help public water and wastewater systems comply with regulations. See the FMT webpage for more information. 

How Do I Get My EPP Approved?

To be approved, an EPP must demonstrate that operating pressures of 35 psi can be restored as soon as it is safe and practicable after a natural disaster. You must submit the EPP to TCEQ for approval. If the EPP is not approved, TCEQ will send you a letter indicating what we would need to approve the plan.

What are The Deadlines to Submit The EPP?

Affected utilities which serve water into Fort Bend County which began serving water before November 1, 2011 and affected utilities which serve water into Harris County which began serving water between December 1, 2009 and November 1, 2011

      • Submit EPP February 1, 2012
      • Implement EPP by June 1, 2012

New systems in Fort Bend County and Harris County that will begin serving water after November 1, 2011 must have an approved EPP before serving water to customers.

Can I Ask For an Extension to Submit, or to Implement My EPP?

Yes. Affected utilities which serve water into Fort Bend County which began serving water before November 1, 2011 and affected utilities which serve water into Harris County which began serving water between December 1, 2009 and November 1, 2011, may request a 90 day extension to either submit or implement your plan not exceeding 90 days from the submission and implementation deadlines. To request an extension, send a letter explaining why you need the extension to:

Public Drinking Water Section, MC-155
Texas Commission Environmental Quality
PO Box 13087
Austin TX 78711-3087

Can The Requirement to Submit an EPP Be Waived?

Yes. Affected utilities which serve water into Fort Bend County which began serving water before November 1, 2011 and affected utilities which serve water into Harris County which began serving water between December 1, 2009 and November 1, 2011, may apply for a financial waiver to the EPP requirement, if you can show that implementing an EPP will cause a significant financial burden to your customers. To obtain a waiver, you must show the actual costs of running your water system and anticipated cost of implementing an EPP. Then you must show how the combined costs would be a significant burden on your customers.

Note that submitting a waiver request will not extend the deadline to submit your EPP.
 
  • The waiver needs to be submitted with enough time for TCEQ to review it, and if denied, would allow you time to complete an EPP and submit it BEFORE the submission deadline.
  • To request a waiver, send a letter with the required information to:

Public Drinking Water Section, MC-155
Texas Commission Environmental Quality
PO Box 13087
Austin TX 78711-3087

  • Waiver Fact Sheet has been developed to help you develop a financial waiver request.

 

My EPP is Approved, Now What?

Now that you have received an approved EPP, and the approval letter, it’s time to implement your plan. A copy of the approval letter and the accepted EPP must be maintained on file. Both documents must be made available to TCEQ staff during inspections as required.

How Do I Change or Update The EPP?

A water system does not need to submit updates to its EPP to the TCEQ unless the alternative power options are being updated. Contact information or personnel changes do not need to be sent to TCEQ for approval. Please include this information within your EPP and submit the updated information to the organizations listed on Attachment A of the approved EPP.

What If I Have Additional Questions?

If you need additional assistance please call 512-239-EPP1 (3771) or email PDWEPP@tceq.texas.gov. You may also see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document.