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Drought Emergency Planning

Resources for Public Water Systems for drought and emergency management and planning.

Where can I find information on current drought conditions? 

How do I report the current stage of my system’s drought contingency plan to TCEQ?

Fill out the Drought Contingency Plan Water Use Restrictions Reporting Form to report the current stage of your public water system’s drought contingency plan (DCP). Also use this form to submit updates as conditions change. More information on DCPs can be found on the Drought Contingency Plans webpage. 

What steps should I take for emergency drought planning?

An important step to planning for a drought emergency is keeping your DCP up to date. As area conditions and populations change, so should your DCP. Some things to consider when evaluating your DCP: 

  • Is the plan still relevant for your current population?
  • Do trigger levels still make sense?
  • Are the local resources listed still available to help?

Other preparation measures include:

  • Encourage water conservation.
  • Implement public education and outreach strategies.
  • Measure and track existing water supplies.
  • Repair leaks in the distribution system to limit water loss.
  • Report to TCEQ the amount of water supply if it is approaching less than 180 days.
  • Evaluate infrastructure and develop plans to meet needs (e.g. extending intake structures to deeper waters, drilling new wells, etc.).
  • Timely seek authorizations and funding resources to extend existing supplies or obtain new sources.

Think about whether you have a plan beyond your DCP. If a water shortage arises, there are several alternative water supply options to explore: 

Emergency interconnections

    • Consider securing an interconnection with a nearby water system before a drought emergency arises.
    • If an interconnect with a nearby water system is possible, but there are capacity or pressure concerns, TCEQ may be able to offer an exception through an exception request.   
    • All interconnects must go through TCEQ’s approval process prior to construction, even in an emergency. Contact the TCEQ’s Plan and Technical Review Section to begin the process.

Emergency wells

    • All wells must receive TCEQ approval before they are drilled or used, even in an emergency. Contact TCEQ’s Plan and Technical Review Section to begin the process. 
    • Existing wells that are used for other purposes, such as irrigation or private wells, may be converted to public use with TCEQ’s approval. If these wells do not meet PWS construction standards, you may need to upgrade parts or the system or request an exception from TCEQ.   
    • Data from TWDB’s Ground Water Availability Models can help in deciding the best locations for emergency wells. 

Hauled water

    • Consider who will be hauling the water and where it is coming from. 
    • If hauling in potable water, ensure that you are using a TCEQ licensed water hauler. If hauling raw water that you will then treat, the hauler does not need to be licensed.

Reclaimed water

    • Reclaimed water is treated wastewater that is safe and suitable for a purpose that would use other water resources.
    • Reclaimed water may be used as part of a conservation plan as well as an emergency source. Some areas where reclaimed water can help with conservation include: irrigation, industrial uses, fire protection, and dust control.
    • For more information see our Requirements for Reclaimed Water webpage. 
    • There are some options for using wastewater as drinking water as Direct Potable Reuse for Public Water Systems. Contact TCEQ’s Plan and Technical Review Section to discuss this option.


What technical resources are available for my system?

  • Financial, Managerial, and Technical Assistance Program (FMT) – Professional contractors who provide water systems help that is tailored to their specific needs. Some things FMT may be able to help with include: 
    • Asset management
    • Rate studies
    • Emergency planning, including alternate source evaluation
    • Funding 
  • EnviroMentor Program – Professional volunteers who can help small businesses and local governments comply with state environmental rules. Contact the Small Business and Local Government Assistance specialist in your regional TCEQ office for more information. 

What funding resources are available?

Funding an emergency water project is often a combination of rate increases, loans, and grants. Conducting a rate study can help you decide if a rate increase or temporary surcharge is necessary to offset some costs. Some funding resources include:

  • Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) – Provides financial assistance, water planning, and data for water-related projects in the State. TWDB offers a variety of cost-effective loan and grant programs for water-related infrastructure construction and improvement projects. 
  • Texas Water Infrastructure Coordination Committee (TWICC) – Committee to find solutions to water and wastewater infrastructure compliance issues and to seek funding. Visit their website to find a list of agencies and programs that offer funding for water-related projects. 

What is TCEQ’s response during drought?

The Emergency Drinking Water Task Force (EDWTF) is a collaborative, coordinated multi-agency response to drought. It includes representatives from TCEQ, Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), as well as various funding agencies. During a drought emergency, the task force is activated and meets on a regular basis. The primary role of the EDWTF is to coordinate actions of its members to efficiently respond to PWSs needs during drought. It provides this support to systems by:

  • Identifying alternative sources of water
  • Offering technical assistance
  • Identifying funding sources and facilitating the application process
  • Identifying areas to implement additional water conservation efforts
  • Expediting the permitting process when appropriate

Water systems that self-report the status of their DCP via the reporting form are vetted and added to the EDWTF’s priority list. Each system is then assigned a project manager that will work with the system and provide regular updates to the task force.

Who can I contact if I need more help?

TCEQ's Small Business and Local Government Assistance section offers free, confidential help to small businesses and local governments working to follow state environmental regulations. Call us at (800) 447-2827 or visit our webpage at .

If you are experiencing an emergency at your PWS or need immediate assistance, please notify the TCEQ region that serves your county. You can find contact information for regional offices at our Region Directory