Revising the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards
The process to revise the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards (Standards) includes the public and is usually conducted at least every three years. Revisions address new information about pollutants, additional data about water quality conditions in specific segments, and new state and federal regulatory requirements.
Stakeholders in the review and revision process include the TCEQ, EPA, the general public, other governmental agencies, industries, municipalities, environmental groups, and others. Much of the coordination is done through the Surface Water Quality Standards Advisory Workgroup. There have been revisions to the Standards in 1967, 1973, 1981, 1984, 1988, 1995, 1997, 2000, and 2010.
The Procedures to Implement the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards (RG-194) (Implementation Procedures), which explain how the Standards are used in wastewater permitting, are reviewed and revised along with the Standards.
2014 Revision: Language Pending Adoption
Staff have recommended a variety of possible changes such as site-specific uses and criteria for individual water bodies, the addition of a definition for industrial cooling water areas, clarification regarding the allowance of different mixing zone sizes for specific numeric criteria, and the addition of a second category of primary contact recreation (primary contact recreation 2). These recommendations have been filed with the Chief Clerk, but have not yet been voted on by the commissioners. Revisions were developed by internal staff workgroups and the Surface Water Quality Standards Advisory Workgroup.
Copies of the language pending adoption can be obtained from the commission's Pending Rule Adoptions Website. A preamble is included with the revised rule language which includes a section-by-section discussion of all changes being considered for adoption and the formal response to public comments.
Public Comment Period
The TCEQ Commissioners granted permission to publically propose revisions to the Standards during the August 21, 2013 agenda, and the proposed rule language and public hearing notice were published in the September 13, 2013 edition of the Texas Register . The public hearing notice was published in 15 newspapers covering different areas of the state on August 25, 2013, and mailed to permittees, public officials, state agencies, surrounding states, and other interested parties the week of August 25, 2013. The public comment period began the week of August 25th and ended on October 24, 2013. Written comments were required to be submitted no later than midnight, October 24, 2013. The formal response to public comments is included in the preamble with the language pending adoption .
The commission held a public hearing on this proposal in Austin on October 17, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. in Building E, Room 201S, at the commission's central office located at 12100 Park 35 Circle. The hearing was structured for the receipt of oral or written comments by interested persons.
Adoption Agenda Date
The Texas Surface Water Quality Standards revisions will be considered by the Commission for adoption at the February 12, 2014 agenda. If adopted, the final rule will be published again in the Texas Register on February 28, 2014 and become effective as a state rule on March 6, 2014. The adopted rule will be sent to EPA for review and approval for Clean Water Act purposes.
For further information on the Standards, please contact Ms. Debbie Miller, Water Quality Planning Division, at (512) 239-1703. For further information on the Implementation Procedures, please contact Mr.Gregg Easley, Water Quality Division, at (512) 239-4539.