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Fee Increases to the Agency's Water Programs

Increases were made to the following three water fees: Consolidated Water Quality, Public Health Services Fee, Water Use Assessment Fee.

The Commission adopted rules to increase the Consolidated Water Quality Fee, Public Health Service Fee, and Water Use Assessment Fee at the July 8, 2009 agenda meeting, and the rules took effect July 30, 2009. You may view copies of the rulemaking documents below.

What are the fees and who pays?

When you must pay the increased fees

Background Information:

What are the fees and who pays?

How to find out if you pay one of these fees

If you hold a current individual wastewater permit on Sept. 1, you are subject to the Consolidated Water Quality Fee. An example of an account number for the Consolidated Water Quality Fee is 230xxxxx.

If you are a public water system of any type, including a community, transient noncommunity public water system, or a nontransient, noncommunity public water system, then you are subject to the Public Health Service Fee. An example of an account number for the Public Health Service Fee is 9xxxxxxx (a "9" followed by a 7-digit public water system ID number).

If you hold a water right and do not fall under one of the exemptions, then you are subject to the Water Use Assessment Fee. An example of an account number for the water use assessment fee is 06xxxxxR.

If you fall under one of the exemptions you will not receive a bill from the agency.

Exemptions are listed in Title 30, Texas Administrative Code, Section 21.3(c). Exemptions from the Water Use Assessment Fee include:

  • municipal or industrial water rights directly associated with a facility that is assessed a Consolidated Water Quality Fee,
  • agriculture (irrigation) water rights,
  • non-priority hydroelectric water rights for a facility with a capacity of less than 2 megawatts, and
  • consumptive authorization for less than 250 acre-feet.

Please refer to the full text of the current rule at the Secretary of State’s Web site.

If you received a bill for any of the three fees in 2008 you will probably be billed in 2009, as well.

How much will I need to pay?

Because of the potential for some variability between the data the fee payers use to calculate their fee rates and the information the agency has regarding each fee payer, the agency encourages you to contact us to discuss your particular fee assessment.

Any general revenue appropriation in addition to the changes in the cap will allow the agency to adjust rates so that the impact of the fees is spread more broadly across the group of fee payers.

For information about how to contact the TCEQ, see How to get more information on these fees.

How the TCEQ determined the Consolidated Water Quality Fee amounts

The new rule increases rates and minimums for all the fees by a percentage across the board to generate the revenue at a level sufficient to support the agency's appropriations from Account 153. The rule also increases the multiplier from 1.00 to an amount up to a maximum of 1.75.

The 81st Legislature passed House Bill 1433 to increase the statutory cap set in the Texas Water Code for the Water Use Assessment Fee and the Consolidated Water Quality Fee from $75,000 to $100,000. That legislation also allows for annual adjustments based on the consumer price index up to a maximum amount of $150,000.

The Water Use Assessment Fee exemption: is it still in effect for those who pay a Consolidated Water Quality Fee for a wastewater permit?

Yes, that exemption is provided in the Texas Water Code and can only be changed by the Legislature.

The new Public Health Service Fee structure

If you have... Then you pay...
fewer than 25 connections $100
between 25 and 160 connections $175
more than 160 connections up to $2.15 for each connection

Note: Some differences exist for noncommunity and federal or state institutions.

When you must pay the increased fees

Proposed fee increases became effective July 30, 2009. The payment cycle will remain the same—you will still have 30 days from the billing date to pay each fee.

Consolidated Water Quality Fee bills will be mailed in October.

Public Health Service Fee bills will be mailed in November.

Water Use Assessment Fee bills will be mailed in January.

Is TCEQ approval needed to adjust your utility rates based on a change in your fees?

Yes. The TCEQ may approve minor rate changes due to governmental requirements beyond a utility's control, such as these fee increases, based on 30 TAC 291.21(b)(2)(A)(iv).

How to get more information on these fees

View the rulemaking documents for the rules adopted July 30, 2009:

Please e-mail or call us as listed below.

Consolidated Water Quality Fee
wqap@tceq.texas.gov
512-239-4671

Public Health Services Fee
pdws@tceq.texas.gov
512-239-4691

Water Use Assessment Fee
wateruse@tceq.texas.gov
512-239-6682

Background Information:

81st Legislative Session Action Related to TCEQ Funding

General Revenue

The amount of general revenue provided in the Appropriations Act to support the TCEQ's existing water-program activities for the 2010-11 biennium is equivalent to the amount appropriated in the previous biennium, $9.4 million per year.

The general revenue will be used to support TCEQ water program activities; however, the overall amount of funds needed to support the appropriations for these programs exceeded the current revenue available in the Water Resource Management Account. To address this shortfall and meet our obligations, the agency increased revenues collected from water fees deposited to the Water Resource Management Account.

Texas Water Code Statutory Cap

During the 81st Legislative Session, the Legislature passed HB 1433, which increased the statutory cap set in the Texas Water Code for the Water Use Assessment Fee and the Consolidated Water Quality Fee from $75,000 to $100,000. That legislation also provides for annual adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index up to a maximum of $150,000.

Why a fee increase?

History behind water-related fees

Water Resource Management Account 153 is the primary source of state funding for essentially all water program-related activities of the TCEQ. In 2001, the 77th Legislature passed House Bill 2912, which provided that revenues deposited to Account 153 would be available to the Legislature and the TCEQ to support activities associated with ensuring the protection of the state's water resources.

Account 153 supports a wide range of activities including water rights, storm water, public drinking water, Total Maximum Daily Load development, water utilities, wastewater, river compacts, water-availability modeling, water assessment, confined-animal feeding operations, sludge, the Clean Rivers Program, and groundwater protection. Historically, the TCEQ has used Account 153 as well as the majority of its general revenue appropriations to support its water-program activities.

TCEQ fund balances have dropped while demands against the fund have increased

General revenue appropriations to the TCEQ have declined from the $51 million received in the 2004-05 biennium. In addition, many of the water-related fees that the agency does assess have not increased in seven to 10 years. While revenue from existing fees deposited to Account 153 has remained stable due to the reduction in general revenue appropriations, the demand for funding from the account has increased. As a result, the fund was almost depleted. Before the Commission increased fees, revenue estimates for Account 153 revealed insufficient funds for the TCEQ to cover the costs of its water-program activities in fiscal 2010 and 2011.

Why certain fees were targeted for increase

Given the declining availability of funds in Account 153, the TCEQ reviewed those water-related fees it has the authority to change, and chose to increase the Consolidated Water Quality Fee, the Public Health Service Fee, and the Water Use Assessment Fee to generate sufficient revenue to cover the costs of its water-program activities beginning in fiscal year 2010.

The agency considered all of its water fees when determining how to best ensure that it could meet its financial obligations to continue to carry out its water related activities beginning in FY 2010. These three fees were slated for increases because in numbers and categories of fee payers they are among the most broad-based water-related fees the TCEQ assesses. In addition, revision of these three fees did not require statutory changes, and their revenue stream is relatively stable and significant. Finally, the impact from the increases to these fees will be spread across the majority of water-fee payers throughout the state.

The agency did not select fees that require a statutory change because changes to those fees are outside of the agency's direct control and the majority of those fees do not generate the amount of revenue necessary to cover the revenue shortfall.

The fee increases will ensure that the agency is able to continue its water-program activities at the current level.

When the TCEQ last increased these three fees

The Consolidated Water Quality Fee had not been increased since it first became effective on October 6, 2002.

The Public Health Service Fee was last amended in 2001 to the current flat fee or per-connection calculation. Systems paying a flat fee had not seen an increase since 2001. The formula for calculating the per-connection rate also had not changed since 2001. Fees for the public water systems that pay per connection had only increased due to system growth.

In 1992, the TCEQ began assessing a fee on water rights. In 2001, the fee became known as the Water Use Assessment Fee. The last changes to this fee were in 1994.

Why the TCEQ proposed this fee increase now

  • The agency had to ensure that sufficient funds would be available to cover the costs of its water-program activities in fiscal year 2010 (which began Sept. 2009).
  • The billings associated with the Public Health Services Fee and the Consolidated Water Quality Fee are issued in October and November, so any changes to the rule needed to be in effect by late summer. The Water Use Assessment Fee is typically billed in January.
  • The agency wanted to ensure sufficient notice to you as a fee payer so that in preparing your budget for next year, you could take into account any possible increase.

 

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