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Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR)

The Revised Total Coliform Rule protects public health by reducing potential pathways for fecal contamination into public drinking water distribution systems. All public water systems must comply with the Revised Total Coliform Rule requirements beginning March 30, 2016.

The Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) establishes a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for E. coli, and uses E. coli and total coliforms to initiate a "find and fix" approach to prevent fecal contamination from entering the distribution system. It requires public water systems (PWS) to identify sanitary defects and correct them.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has adopted the RTCR into Title 30 of the Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Chapter 290.  RTCR requirements for public water systems took effect March 30, 2017.

The Revised Total Coliform Rule Plus (RTCR Plus), rule project no. 2015-035-290-OW, was adopted at Commission Agenda on March 8, 2017.  The TCEQ published amendments to §290.38, 290.103, 290.104, 290.111, 290.112, and 290.118 which were adopted without changes to the proposed text as published in the October 7, 2016 issue of the Texas Register (41 TexReg 7949).  The amendments §290.42, 290.46, 290.47, 290.102, 290.106 - 290.110, 290.113 - 290.117, 290.119, 290.121, 290.122, 290.272, and 290.275 were adopted with changes to the proposed text and were republished in the March 24, 2017 issue of the Texas Register (42 TexReg 1466).  All revisions after the commission's adoption agenda on March 8, 2017 were accepted, and the corrections were published in the April 7, 2017 edition of the Texas Register.  All amendments and revisions can be found at:

The final chapter 290 rules (Subchapter D, F, and H) include all the amendments to Title 30 TAC §290.38, 290.42, 290.46, 290.47, 290.102 - 290.104,  290.106 - 290.119, 290.121, 290.122, 290.272, and 290.275 are available on the TCEQ website at TCEQ rules.

EPA's Revised Total Coliform Rule: A Quick Reference GuideExit the TCEQ 

A summary of federal drinking water requirements for the RTCR.

EPA's Total Coliform Rule RevisionsExit the TCEQ

EPA published the RTCR in the Federal Register February 13, 2013 (78 FR 10269). It is the revision to the 1989 Total Coliform Rule.

Sample Siting Plan

All PWSs were required to submit their Sample Siting Plan to the TCEQ Drinking Water Standards Section by March 31, 2016. TCEQ's Revised Total Coliform Rule Sample Siting Plan Template can be used to develop and maintain routine coliform sample locations collected in the distribution system. The plan should also include repeat sample locations in the event the PWS receives a positive routine coliform sample. PWSs should mail the Sample Siting Plan to TCEQ or email to

Sample Siting Plan Map Requirements and Example  

Seasonal Public Water Systems

Start-up Procedures for Seasonal Public Water Systems

How to Collect Routine and Repeat Coliform Samples

Guidance for Bacteriological Sample Collection

RTCR Repeat Sampling Requirements Flowchart

Licensing Requirements

Compliance samples must be collected by an individual with a current water operator's license [30 THSC, §341.034(b)]. Only transient non-community water systems using groundwater are exempt from this requirement.

Level 1 and Level 2 Assessment Forms

Please note that the Level 1 and Level 2 Assessment forms are currently in Draft form until the EPA has granted the TCEQ final primacy enforcement authority to implement the provisions of the RTCR. Until the TCEQ has received interim or full primacy, EPA is the primary enforcement authority and until EPA has approved the TCEQ's primacy revision application, the TCEQ and EPA will share responsibility in the implementation of the RTCR.  This partnership will consist of the TCEQ implementing the primary program elements of the RTCR and EPA carrying out any enforcement activities since the TCEQ will not have enforcement authority for the RTCR until the TCEQ rule is adopted.

During this time, the TCEQ and EPA should be viewed as partners, working toward two very specific goals.  The first goal is to achieve a high level of compliance with the RTCR. The second goal is to facilitate successful implementation of the RTCR during the transition period between when EPA has primacy and when the TCEQ is delegated primacy.

The TCEQ has received a two-year extension from EPA for submitting the TCEQ's drinking water primacy program revision application under the Safe Drinking Water Act for the RTCR, which was published in the Federal Register February 13, 2015.

As a condition of TCEQ's primacy program extension approval during this period, the TCEQ has agreed to implement the following RTCR provisions as required under 40 Code of the Federal Regulations (CFR)  §142.12 (relating to Revisions of State programs):

  • Inform public water systems of the new RTCR requirements and that EPA will be overseeing implementation of the requirements until EPA approves TCEQ's revisions
  • Collect appropriate data as if the RTCR has been adopted
  • Assist EPA in any needed enforcement actions and conducting follow-up on violations
  • Provide technical assistance to PWSs relating to the RTCR
  • Provide EPA with TCEQ records relating to the RTCR as required in 40 CFR §142.12
  • Ensure that the necessary program capability to implement the new RTCR requirements is developed during the extension period
  • Conduct RTCR compliance determination activities and subsequent reporting to EPA


Level 1 Assessment Form (5/1/17) Microsoft Word Document       Level 1 Assessment Form (5/1/17) Adobe Acrobat PDF Document

For instructions about how to complete the Level 1 Assessment form, please contact a TCEQ RTCR  staff member at 512-239-4691.

Level 2 Assessment Form Microsoft Word Document                    Level 2 Assessment Form Adobe Acrobat PDF Document

Tier 1 Public Notice Documents  Microsoft Word Document


Forms for Reporting

How to Complete the Microbial Reporting Form (MRF) - 11/2019 

Laboratory Guidelines for the MRF (Form 10525) - 11/2019

Microbial Reporting Form (MRF) - 08/2017

Microbial Monitoring POSITIVE Result Report Form (08/2017)

Total Coliform Positive Invalidation Request Form (09/2019)

Guidance for Collection, Analysis, and Reporting for Microbial Contaminants under the Revised Total Coliform and Groundwater Rules


TCEQ's Financial, Managerial, and Technical (FMT) program

Through a contract with skilled professionals, we offer free financial, managerial, and technical assistance to help public water and wastewater systems comply with regulations.

Presentations from October 28 Special Meeting:


On February 4, 2016, the Texas Section American Water Works Association (AWWA) in partnership with the TCEQ sponsored a free webcast concerning the upcoming RTCR federal requirements for all public water systems, which will take effect April 1, 2016.  The AWWA TCEQ webcast video link is posted below