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Requesting an Exception to Rules and Regulations for Public Water Systems

A public water system (PWS) that does not meet a TCEQ standard (rule) in Title 30 of the Texas Administrative Code (30 TAC) Chapter 290 Subchapter D may request an exception by proposing another way it can meet the intent of the rule. We review each exception request to ensure that, if granted, the exception allows the PWS to still deliver safe drinking water to its customers at adequate pressures.

Updated Information Review and Approval Process for Regulation of Mobile Water Treatment Systems

A new process has been developed for review and approval of Mobile Water Treatment Systems (MWTSs). This process is similar to the regulatory process for water haulers. To learn more, please see our Mobile Water Treatment Systems Guidance.

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. Please note that alternative methods proposed must be equally protective of public health. Exceptions are also required for approval to use innovative/alternate treatment technologies.  Exception requests may be requested by representatives of PWSs, such as engineers, operators, or PWS owners.

Exception requests may be needed in the following situations, including but not limited to:

  • 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.Exit the TCEQ This documented data helps demonstrate that the proposed alternative method is equally protective of public health.

Are All Exceptions Automatically Approved?

No. The public water system (PWS) representative must be able to demonstrate that the proposed alternative is equally protective of public health.

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How Do I Request an Exception?

For any request that is not an Alternative Capacity Requirement (ACR), please start by completing the Exception Request Form . If you are requesting an Alternative Capacity Requirement (ACR), please complete the ACR specific form  instead. These forms help ensure that required information for our review 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 exception submittals. Additional assistance for common exception requests can be found in the following list:

      1. Blending Chloramines Checklist Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
      2. Day Tanks Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
      3. Alternative Capacity Requirements Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
      4. Sanitary Control Easement (SCE) Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
      5. Ordinance in lieu of an SCE Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
      6. Ordinance Form Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
      7. Well Setback Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
      8. Well Construction Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
      9. Well Cementing Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
      10. SOR/HDT Pilot Requirements Checklist Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
      11. HLR Pilot Requirements Checklist Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
      12. SCBA Checklist Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
      13. Membrane/Cartridge-Filter Challenge Studies for Installations & Replacements
      14. Ultraviolet (UV) Disinfection Validation & Exception Approval

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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, prior review of these staff guidance documents is useful when an exception is being pursued.  Please see the links below for current staff guidance documents maintained by the Technical Review and Oversight Team:

        1. Alternative Capacity Requirement (ACR) Requests
              •    Groundwater Systems with Fewer Than 250 Connections or Less Than 750 People Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
        2. Blending Chlorine and Chloramines Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
        3. Well Completion Exception Request Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
        4. Bag and Cartridge Filters Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
        5. Pass-through Capacity Requirements for Service Pumps Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
        6. Minimum Pressure Requirements (Potable Water Transfer Lines) Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
        7. Pressure Maintenance Facilities: Industrial Applications Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
        8. Updated Information Protection of Aerators and Cooling Towers Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
        9. Concrete Storage Tank Cover Slope and Ponding Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
        10. Steel Storage Tank Cover Slope and Ponding Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
        11. Updated Information Alternate Disinfectants: Standby Units and Spare Parts Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
        12. Use of Chlorine Dioxide Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
        13. Meeting Minimum Treatment Requirements Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
        14. Removal Credit for Reverse Osmosis Membranes Adobe Acrobat PDF Document
        15. Reverse Osmosis and Nanofiltration Systems no longer require an exception.
        16. Selection of Baffling Factors Adobe Acrobat PDF Document

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.

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Where Do I Mail My Request?

When your exception request is complete, mail it to the Technical Review and Oversight Team (TROT) at this address:

Technical Review and Oversight Team
Plan and Technical Review 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.

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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.

These conditions are selected to protect public health, ensure adequate and reliable water service, and maintain drinking water quality in the PWS. These conditions may 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 or the PWS may receive a violation. Please note that these conditions are enforceable.

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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 submit engineering plans and specifications for our review and approval.

Be sure to allow 100 days for our review, and any additional time needed for you to address any design modifications issues that we identify in our review.

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Can I Check the Status of My Exception Request?

Yes, you can. To check on the status of your request, go to the Water District Database (WDD). Download illustrated instructions Adobe Acrobat PDF Document for accessing the status of an exception request.

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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): Exit the TCEQ

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Any exception granted by the commission is subject to revocation.
  3. Any request for an exception which is not approved by the commission in writing is denied.
  4. 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.

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