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Oil and Gas Facilities: Water Compliance Information

Find out if you need authorization for your drinking water, on-site sewage facility, reclaimed water use, and water transportation, including information about surface- and groundwater rights and dam safety.

If you supply water for human consumption and can potentially serve at least 15 connections or 25 people or more at least 60 days out of the year, you may be a regulated "Public Water System." Human consumption includes, but is not limited to, drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, bathing, washing hands, washing dishes, and preparing foods.

Transporters and Haulers: Commonly Asked Questions – Questions and answers for transporters of oil and gas waste, liquid waste, treated effluent, and drinking water.

Water Hauler Guidance – a rule guide for those who transport drinking water.

Mobile Water Treatment Systems Guidance – a guide to the approval process for mobile water treatment systems for drinking water.

HOT Oil and Gas Wastewater Stakeholder Group – House Bill 2771, 86th Texas Legislature, directed TCEQ to seek NPDES delegation for discharges of produced water, hydrostatic test water, and gas plant effluent into surface water in the state resulting from certain oil and gas activities. State permitting authority for these discharges transferred from the RRC to TCEQ on January 15, 2021.

NEW Oil and Gas Wastewater Permits – Permits for oil and gas facilities, requirements for each type, and links and information on how to apply.

On-Site Sewage Facilities

On-site sewage facilities (OSSFs), also called septic systems, can be used for domestic wastewater at oil and gas sites. Many counties in Texas have their own local permitting authority for OSSFs. For areas without a local authority, TCEQ reviews OSSF permit applications.

Reclaimed Water

Without access to sewer service, you must obtain other authorization to discharge wastewater. Use the following links to find out if the Industrial Reclaimed Water Reuse Permit is right for you.


EPA’s Oil and Gas Stormwater Permitting under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).

With few exemptions, you need a water rights permit to divert, impound, take, or use surface water. You cannot begin these activities or construction for them without TCEQ’s approval.

Temporary Surface Water Rights

Short duration projects, such as oil and gas well drilling and hydrostatic testing, may apply for a temporary water rights permit. These permits can grant up to 3 years of use. in river basins not affected by drought. The two types of temporary water rights permits are based on the volume and duration of water use, and you apply for each differently.

To request 10 acre-feet or less of water use for up to one calendar year:

Send your completed temporary water use application form (TCEQ-20425) to the Watermaster’s Office in:

If your area does not have a Watermaster, send the application to your TCEQ Regional Office.

To request more than 10 acre-feet of water use and/or use for up to three calendar years:

Send your completed temporary water rights permit application (TCEQ-10202) to:

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

If you have questions about your temporary water use permit, contact the Water Rights Permitting Team at (512) 239-4691 or email

Groundwater Rights

Regional groundwater conservation districts (GCDs) manage and regulate groundwater production and use in Texas. If your land is not in a GCD, you are subject to the rule of capture, which says that groundwater captured by a well and brought to the surface belongs to the landowner. Under the rule, the landowner:

  • Cannot capture and use the groundwater to injure a neighbor or willfully waste the resource.
  • Is liable for damages if their groundwater pumping activity lowers the elevation of neighboring land.

More information on GCDs:

Groundwater Advisory Unit

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) may require a Groundwater Protection Determination for surface casing, underground injection, and other underground activities. The determination estimates the depth to the base of usable-quality groundwater and additional isolation zones that should be protected for any wells within a specified area.

For more information, please contact RRC at (512) 463-2741 or and view their Groundwater Advisory Unit webpage.

The Dam Safety Program monitors and regulates private and public dams in Texas. TCEQ may request an engineering study if you plan to:

  • Dredge the reservoir within 200 feet (ft) of the dam.
  • Install a utility line or pipeline in the dam or spillways that requires significant excavation in them.
  • Construct a road across the dam or spillways or within 200 ft of the dam.
  • Drill oil or gas wells, perform horizontal drilling or fracturing, or explore for oil or gas within 500 ft of the dam and spillways.
  • Blast within one-half mile of the dam.

The professional engineer’s report must certify that your planned activities will not compromise the dam’s integrity. Rules and regulations for the Dam Safety Program are in 30 TAC 299 .

For more information about oil and gas compliance:

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 Web page at