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Public Water System Supervision Program

The TCEQ's responsibility and authority for regulating public water systems and the PWSSP Quality Assurance Project Plan.

TCEQ’s public drinking water program is a part of the state’s Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) program. The state is required to maintain a PWSS program in order to retain primary enforcement authority (primacy) over Texas public water systems’ (PWSs’) compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and its amendments. States that do not have primacy are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) directly.

The TCEQ’s PWSS program is implemented by many areas within the agency. The EPA gives flexibility to primacy agencies for some PWSS program activities by requiring TCEQ to develop a program for certain activities, with EPA approval of the program. TCEQ is required to:

  1. Adopt, implement, and support compliance with drinking water rules at least as stringent as the federal rules. This is done by the Public Drinking Water Standards Section (DWSS) and Drinking Water Special Functions Section (DWSFS) of the Water Supply Division (WSD) in the Office of Water (OW).
  2. Deliver PWS inventory, violation, and action data to EPA (OW/WSD/DWSFS).
  3. Ensure compliance monitoring and compliance determination for chemical and microbiological standards, ensure initial water quality meets minimum standards before approving a new source (OW/WSD/DWSS).
  4. Assess the source water vulnerability of all drinking water sources in the state and provide support to help public water systems protect those source waters (OW/WSD/DWSFS).
  5. Review and approve engineered plans for PWS infrastructure improvements. This is done by the Districts Section of the Water Supply Division in the Office of Water (OW/WSD/DS).
  6. Support programs for capacity development (OW/WSD/DS).
  7. Oversee compliance with and provide technical assistance for Homeland Security requirements for PWSs (OW/WSD/DWSFS).
  8. Perform sanitary surveys of sources, treatment, distribution, storage, pump facilities, data verification, management, operation, and operator compliance for new and existing PWSs. This is done by the Regional Offices under the Field Operations Division (FOD) of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement (OCE).
  9. Ensure formal enforcement action for PWSs that exceed compliance trigger levels agreed upon by TCEQ and EPA. TCEQ’s Enforcement Division of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement maintains this part of the PWSS program.
  10. Maintain a licensing program for PWS operators. The Operator Licensing Section runs this program.
  11. Maintain a laboratory certification program for the analysis in the drinking water matrix. This is done by the Quality Assurance Section.

The National Primary Drinking Water Regulations adopted under the Safe Drinking Water Act, can be found in Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations Part 141; The rules that TCEQ adopts and implements can be found in 30 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapter 290.

Primacy is a status that must be maintained. As EPA promulgates new regulations, primacy States must adopt the new requirements under State law and apply for primacy for those requirements. Primacy applications must include copies of applicable statutes and regulations, program descriptions, descriptions of enforcement procedures for the applicable regulations, Attorney General’s statements, and other relevant information.

The TCEQ ensures a successful PWSS program through technical assistance, preventive efforts, and customer service, as well as through regulatory and enforcement actions. Preventive efforts are aimed at notifying and educating an operator about requirements, and can result in avoiding critical issues. TCEQ also conducts outreach and education activities to promote understanding of and compliance with their regulations. These activities are based on the belief that most water suppliers want to do the right thing if they understand how and why it must be done.

PWSS Program Quality Assurance Project Plan

The EPA requires a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) for all environmental data operations funded under the Public Water System Supervision Program (PWSSP). All work that involves the acquisition of environmental data shall be performed in accordance with a TCEQ/EPA-approved QAPP meeting all applicable TCEQ and EPA requirements. Environmental data includes any analytical measurements or information that describes environmental processes, locations or conditions. Environmental data consists of information collected directly from field or analytical measurements, produced from models, or compiled from other sources such as databases or literature. Without prejudice to any other remedies available to TCEQ, failure to meet the terms of the QAPP may result in TCEQ's suspension of associated activities and non-acceptance of data related to the associated activities.

The TCEQ WSD has created a main "Programmatic" QAPP as well as ten (10) addenda that are geared toward specific audiences. Laboratories that submit data to the TCEQ PWSSP for use in compliance must be:

  • Accredited by TCEQ under The NELAC Institute (TNI) National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP) Standards,
  • Use only EPA approved drinking water methods,
  • Adhere to relevant TCEQ and/or EPA drinking water regulations,
  • Adhere to EPA requirements in the Manual for the Certification of Laboratories Analyzing Drinking WaterExit the TCEQ, and
  • Adhere to programmatic requirements contained in the PWSSP QAPP.

The TCEQ reserves the right to refuse to accept data and analyses from laboratories in order to maintain compliance with programmatic requirements and specifications listed above.