Requesting an Exception to Rules and Regulations for Public Water Systems
Who Must Request an Exception?
As specified in TCEQ regulations (30 TAC §290.39(l)), when it is not possible for a public water system (PWS) to meet the requirements in the regulations (rules), a PWS has the option of proposing an alternative method to meet a rule by requesting an exception. Exceptions are also required for approval to use innovative/alternate treatment technologies. Even though exception requests apply to PWSs, they may also be requested by representatives of PWSs, such as engineers.
Examples of when exception requests may be needed include:
- when records have been lost
- when trying to convert a private well to a PWS well
- when using a ground storage tank that does not meet TCEQ design requirements
A PWS or its representative must substantiate an exception request with carefully documented data such as pressure recordings, historical daily-usage data, documentation of any surrounding hazards, or NSF International Certification.
Are All Exceptions Automatically Approved?
No. For example, we granted only 55 percent of the exception requests processed in the first 10 months of fiscal 2009.
How Do I Request an Exception?
We have recently made changes to the exception request process and have created two new forms to aid with your submission. For any request that is not an Alternative Capacity Requirement (ACR), please start by completing the new Exception Request Form . If you are requesting an Alternative Capacity Requirement (ACR), please complete the ACR specific form instead. The purpose of these forms is to help ensure that required information gets submitted with your request, so it may be processed without unnecessary delays. Please submit the appropriate completed form along with a signed cover letter and supporting documentation. Read our staff guidance documents for public water systems for help with exceptions. Additional assistance for common exception requests can be found in the following list:
- Rainwater Harvesting Checklist
- Change to Chloramines
- Day Tanks
- Alternative Capacity Requirements
- Pressure Maintenance Facilities: Industrial Applications
- Sanitary Control Easement (SCE)
- Ordinance in lieu of an SCE
- Ordinance Form
- Well Setback
- Well Records
- Well Construction
- Well Cementing
- SOR/HDT Pilot Requirements Checklist
- HLR Pilot Requirements Checklist
- SCBA Checklist
- Membrane/Cartridge-Filter Challenge Studies for Installations & Replacements
- Ultraviolet (UV) Disinfection Validation & Exception Approval
Staff Guidance Documents
In many cases, guidance regarding the intent of TCEQ Rules is useful for both individuals outside TCEQ and also for TCEQ staff. Staff Guidance documents provide additional information on a specific topic. In some cases, but not all, these staff guidance documents are useful when an exception is pursued. Please see the links below for current staff guidance documents maintained by the Technical Review and Oversight Team:
- Rainwater Harvesting
- Staff Guidance for Reverse Osmosis for Brackish GW Systems
- Reverse Osmosis Treatment for Secondary Contaminants
- Pass-through Capacity Requirements for Service Pumps
- Potable Water Transfer Lines (In revision)
- Protection of Aerators and Cooling Towers
- Concrete Storage Tank Cover Slope and Ponding
- Steel Storage Tank Cover Slope and Ponding
- Alternate Disinfectants: Standby Units and Spare Parts
- Use of Chloramines
- Use of Chlorine Dioxide
- Removal Credit for Reverse Osmosis Membranes
- Meeting Minimum Treatment Requirements
Also, you are not required to prepare the exception request by yourself. Your PWS’s consulting engineer or other duly authorized representative may prepare the request for you.
When your exception request is complete, mail it to the Technical Review and Oversight Team (TROT) at this address:
Technical Review and Oversight Team
Public Drinking Water Section, MC-159
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 13087
Austin, Texas 78711-3087
We do not officially accept exception requests by any other means.
How Will My Request Be Reviewed?
When we approve an exception request, we may attach a set of conditions crafted specifically for the issue addressed in the exception.
We select conditions needed to protect public health, ensure adequate service, and maintain drinking water quality in the PWS. These conditions could pertain to sampling, treatment, public notice, or other activities.
These conditions must be met. If your PWS fails to meet them, we may revise the conditions or revoke our approval of the exception.
If My Design Requires an Exception,
When Should I Make the Request?
The best time to request an exception is before your PWS is locked into a course of action that will result in a deviation from the rules.
Under the rules, the exception request must be granted before you may submit engineering plans and specifications for our review and approval.
And be sure to allow 100 days for our review, as well as adequate time for you to make any design modifications that we identify in our review.
Can I Check the Status of My Exception Request?
The Rule Behind This Process
Title 30 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapter 290 grants us the authority to review exceptions. In accordance with Subchapter D, Section 290.39(l):
Requests for exceptions to one or more of the requirements in this subchapter shall be considered on an individual basis. Any water system which requests an exception must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the executive director that the exception will not compromise the public health or result in a degradation of service or water quality.
- The exception must be requested in writing and must be substantiated by carefully documented data. The request for an exception shall precede the submission of engineering plans and specifications for a proposed project for which an exception is being requested.
- Any exception granted by the commission is subject to revocation.
- Any request for an exception which is not approved by the commission in writing is denied.
- The executive director may establish site-specific design, operation, maintenance, and reporting requirements for systems that have been issued an exception to the subchapter.
Contact us if you have any questions.