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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 Plan and Technical Review Section (PTRS) of the Water Supply Division in the Office of Water (OW/WSD/PTRS).
  6. Support programs for capacity development (OW/WSD/PTRS).
  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 OCE maintains this part of the PWSS program.
  10. Maintain a licensing program for PWS operators. This is done by the Occupational Licensing Section of the Permitting and Registration Support Division in the Office of Waste (OOW).
  11. Maintain a laboratory certification program for the analysis in the drinking water matrix. This is done by the Quality Assurance Section of the Monitoring Division in OCE.
  12. Review the creation of applications for general-law districts, bond, and miscellaneous applications for water districts to fund water, sewer, and drainage projects. This is done by the Districts Section (DS) of the Water Supply Division in the Office of Water (OW/WSD/DS).

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 PWSS program. 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.

The PWSSP QAPP is approved by EPA for a period of three years.  The current QAPP is in effect until November 4, 2019.  The EPA also requires annual reviews, and minor revisions may be made during those annual reviews. 

  • The PWSSP QAPP is currently under review for Revision 13.  Interested parties are welcome to submit comments regarding any of the following documents until March 31, 2019.  Submit your comments to the PWSSP QA Specialist by email at: Gary.Regner@tceq.texas.gov

PWSSP QAPP Links

Laboratory Adherence

Laboratories that submit analytical data and reports on the behalf of public water systems to the TCEQ for use in complying with the requirements of the SDWA must be accredited in accordance with Title 30 of the Texas Administrative Code (TAC), §290.119, and adhere to PWSSP requirements. Laboratories that analyze microbial samples for compliance with the RTCR or chemical samples for compliance with the LCR (Tap samples and Water Quality Parameters) must certify to TCEQ's PWSSP that they have reviewed and will comply with the PWSSP QAPP.  Laboratories that have any accreditation in the drinking water matrix have been notified via US Mail and email of this requirement, and must return their Letter of Acknowledgement and Agreement to the TCEQ no later than March 31, 2019.

Laboratories must complete the Letter of Acknowledgement and Agreement along with the applicable Drinking Water Laboratory Checklists (listed below) and include any required attachments (monitoring forms, etc.). These should be returned to the TCEQ via US Mail or by email.

The PWSSP will be posting a list of laboratories that have acknowledged and agreed to program requirements as a reference for Public Water Systems to ensure the laboratories they utilize are compliant.