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Managing Municipal Solid Waste through General and Special Law Districts

Information on managing municipal solid waste through general and special law districts.

This information is for general purposes to provide background on options available for certain districts to provide municipal solid waste (MSW) services to customers. A district or community interested in providing solid waste services should consult with appropriate experts to determine the specific issues to resolve and actions to take.

General Law Districts

Some general law districts have the authority to provide MSW services within their jurisdiction. These districts may provide a viable way to manage MSW in areas where a district exists, but no MSW collection or disposal services are provided. A general law district may serve as a good way to provide MSW collection services as it can do the following:

  • Negotiate and execute contracts with private companies or interlocal agreements with local governments for MSW services
  • Apply for municipal solid waste grants from its council of governments
  • Bill customers for MSW services on existing utility bills
  • Terminate utility services for non-payment of services (including MSW)
  • Incur debt and/or levy taxes for financing related to MSW management services

Types of General Law Districts that Can Provide Municipal Solid Waste Services

Water Control and Improvement District (WCID)

  • Created under Chapter 51 of the Texas Water Code
  • Has the authority to tax, borrow, and issue bonds
  • May include all or part of one or more counties, including any town, village, or municipal corporation, and may include other political subdivisions of the state or any defined district

Municipal Utility District (MUD)

  • Created under Chapter 54 of the Texas Water Code
  • Has the authority to tax, borrow, and issue bonds
  • May include all or part of any county or counties, including all or part of any cities of other public agencies

Special Utility District (SUD)

  • Created under Chapter 65 of the Texas Water Code
  • Lack the authority to tax, but can incur debt through bonds
  • Customer-owned rural water supply corporations that have chosen to form governmental districts

Special Law Districts

Special law districts are created by individual legislation. Several special law districts have been created in the past to provide MSW services, including the Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority, Van Zandt County Waste Disposal District, Gaines County Solid Waste Management District, and Upper Sabine Valley Solid Waste Management District.

A river authority is another type of special law district that may provide MSW services.

The solid waste management districts that have been created in Texas generally have the same types of powers, including authority to:

  • Levy a tax, if approved by voters
  • Issue bonds
  • Charge fees for services
  • Construct, acquire, own, and operate landfills, recycling facilities, and plants and equipment necessary to transport, process, dispose of, and control solid waste

Contact the Waste Permits Division

Please contact the Waste Permits Division at (512) 239-2335 if you have any questions about solid waste planning.