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TCEQ Now Accepting Permit Applications for Wastewater Discharge from Oil and Gas Facilities

Wed., Jan. 20, 2021 - Permits remain based on EPA federal and state surface water quality standards
ContactTiffany Young
After Hrs512-239-5000

With the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of Texas Commission on Environmental Quality administering the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program for oil and gas facilities on Friday, TCEQ is ready to receive and process individual permit applications from oil and gas facilities that will treat and discharge wastewater effluent in compliance with federal and state regulations.

TCEQ is well-suited for wastewater permitting, as it has Water Quality staff who currently issue wastewater permits under the Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Program that have state and federal requirements for other industrial and municipal facilities, and TCEQ is the air permitting agency for oil and gas.

In October 2020, TCEQ requested regulatory authority to issue one consolidated permit under the Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program to meet federal and state requirements to protect aquatic life, human health and the environment.

In addition to individual permit applications, one general permit to discharge hydrostatic test water is currently available and two general permits to authorize discharges from certain oil and gas facilities are expected to be available late summer. Oil and gas facilities that do not qualify for coverage under one of the general permits will be required to obtain a site-specific individual permit. TCEQ has already seen interest from the regulated community in obtaining permits.

Facilities currently authorized by EPA under a general permit may continue operating under the current EPA permit until TCEQ’s general permits are issued. Existing individual permit holders will need to submit a permit application to TCEQ prior to the expiration date of the current permit from either the EPA, or the Railroad Commission of Texas, whichever permit expires first.

Regulations for oil and gas discharges will remain the same as current federal standardsExit the TCEQ. EPA rules in 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 435 currently establish technology-based effluent limit guidelines for oil and gas wastewater discharges. TCEQ adopted by rule EPA’s effluent guideline plan in 40 CFR Part 435 in May 2020.

Additionally, TCEQ has existing water quality standards in 30 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 307, which include narrative and numeric criteria for the protection of human health, aquatic life and the environment.

Asking approval from EPA was a directive of House Bill 2771 in 2019 from the 86th Texas Legislature.

Throughout the process of getting approval from the EPA, TCEQ has held stakeholder meetings with the public to hear concerns. Additionally, those who are interested in the process can get on a mailing list to receive updates by emailing