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Drought Contingency Plans

Drought is a frequent and inevitable factor in the climate of Texas. Therefore, it is vital to plan for the effect that droughts will have on the use, allocation and conservation of water in the state.

Drought Contingency

Public water systems must have a contingency plan ready in case of drought or similar water shortages. Water utilities throughout Texas have enacted a variety of measures to reduce peak demands and to extend their water supplies. In some areas of the state, neighboring systems are coordinating their drought response measures.

TCEQ requires all wholesale public water suppliers, retail public water suppliers serving 3,300 connections or more, and irrigation districts to submit drought contingency plans.

The TCEQ requires retail public water suppliers serving less than 3,300 connections to prepare and adopt a drought contingency plan and to make the plan available upon request.

Requirements and Submittal Deadline

The amended Title 30, Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 288 became effective on December 6, 2012. The next revision of the drought contingency plans for retail public water suppliers serving 3,300 or more connections, wholesale public water suppliers, and irrigation districts must be submitted no later than May 1, 2014, and every five years thereafter to coincide with the regional water planning group process. Any new or revised plans must be submitted to the TCEQ within 90 days of adoption by the governing body of the entity.

For all retail public water suppliers serving less than 3,300 connections, the drought contingency plans must be prepared and adopted no later than May 1, 2014, and shall be available for inspection upon request.

The drought contingency plans required to be submitted may be submitted electronically by emailing a completed version of the form to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality at: Drought Contingency Plans .

Or mailed to the following address:

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Water Availability Division, Resource Protection Team, MC-160, P.O. Box 13087, Austin, Texas, 78711-3087.

Investor-Owned Utilities

Privately-owned water suppliers, called investor-owned utilities (IOUs), are required to complete a drought contingency plan and amend the plan into their tariff. IOUs must submit a letter requesting a tariff amendment with the Drought Contingency Plan.

What Drought Contingency Plans Should Include

Drought contingency plans for retail or wholesale water suppliers should include:

  • Specific, quantified targets for water use reductions
  • Drought response stages
  • Triggers to begin and end each stage
  • Supply management measures
  • Demand management measures
  • Descriptions of drought indicators
  • Notification procedures
  • Enforcement procedures
  • Procedures for granting exceptions
  • Public input to the plan
  • Ongoing public education
  • Adoption of plan
  • Coordination with regional water planning group

Texas Administrative Code Title 30, Chapter 288, Subchapter B

Model Drought Contingency Plans

The TCEQ has prepared model drought contingency plans for wholesale and retail public water suppliers, irrigation districts, water supply corporations, and IOUs. You can receive a print copy of the model plan by calling 512/239-4691, or by e-mail to   (Help with Downloading Files.)  

The handbook includes a model plan for retail public water suppliers (TCEQ-20191) Word or PDF.  

The handbook includes a model plan for wholesale public water suppliers (TCEQ-20193) Word or PDF.  

  • Handbook and model plan for Irrigation Districts (TCEQ-20192). Word or PDF  
  • Model Drought Contingency Plan for the Investor Owned Utility (TCEQ-20189). Word or PDF  
  • Model Drought Contingency Plan for the Water Supply Corporation (TCEQ-20187). Word or PDF