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TCEQ Regionalization Policy for Wastewater Treatment

Information for applicants and the public about the requirements associated with regionalization and TCEQ’s role in reviewing domestic wastewater permit applications.

What is wastewater regionalization?

Regionalization is the administrative or physical combination of two or more community wastewater systems for improved planning operation or management.

Texas Water Code (TWC) Section 26.081 provides Texas’ regionalization policy for wastewater treatment. It states that TCEQ is to implement a policy to “encourage and promote the development and use of regional and area-wide waste collection, treatment, and disposal systems to serve the waste disposal needs of the citizens of the state and to prevent pollution and maintain and enhance the quality of the water in the state”.

In furtherance of that policy TWC Section 26.0282 authorizes TCEQ, when considering issuing a permit to discharge waste, to deny or alter the terms and conditions of a proposed permit based on need and the availability of existing or proposed area-wide or regional waste collection, treatment, and disposal systems.

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When does TCEQ assess for wastewater regionalization?

TCEQ will assess for the need and availability of regionalization for wastewater during the permitting process. The presence of a wastewater treatment facility or wastewater collection system within three miles of a proposed new wastewater treatment facility or the expansion of an existing facility is not an automatic basis to deny an application or to compel an applicant to connect to an existing facility.

TCEQ may approve new, renewal, and major amendment applications for discharges of wastewater in any of the following situations where:

  • There is no wastewater treatment facility or collection system within three miles of the proposed facility.
  • The applicant requested service from wastewater treatment facilities within the 3 miles, and the request was denied.
  • The applicant can successfully demonstrate that an exception to regionalization should be granted based on costs, affordable rates, and/or other relevant factors.
  • The applicant has obtained a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) for the service area of the proposed new facility or the proposed expansion of the existing facility.

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How has TCEQ decided on wastewater regionalization in the past?

TCEQ has not denied any wastewater permit actions based solely on regionalization, and the agency supports new applicants and existing facilities productively working together to provide quality and cost-effective service. The following concerns related to regionalization were raised during previous wastewater permit actions and subsequent legal proceedings:

  • lack of timely and cost-efficient wastewater services within the surrounding area
  • lack of detailed cost analysis and comparison
  • lack of thorough communication with existing facilities within a three-mile radius
  • discharges within the Cibolo Creek Watershed per Title 30 , Texas Administrative Code (30 TAC), Section 351.65

TCEQ has previously included agreed language between the applicant and protestants in the “Other Requirements” section of the proposed permit that contains requirements about future coordination if the existing wastewater provider is able to provide service to proposed area.

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What do I need to provide as an applicant, for TCEQ to assess the need and availability of regionalization during the wastewater permitting process?

TCEQ requires that you include justification of permit need in all wastewater permit applications for new facilities and all applications to amend an existing permit. Section 1.1 of the Domestic Technical Report for wastewater permit applications also requires the following information:

  1. Determine whether or not there are any permitted domestic wastewater treatment facilities or collection systems within a three-mile radius of the proposed facility.
  2. Contact any existing permitted domestic wastewater treatment facilities within a three-mile radius to inquire if they currently have the capacity to accept or are willing to expand to accept the volume of wastewater proposed.
    • If an existing facility does have the capacity to accept the proposed wastewater, submit an analysis of expenditures required to connect to the existing facility or collection system versus the cost of constructing and operating the proposed new facility or expansion.
  3. Provide copies of all correspondence with the owners and/or operators of any existing permitted domestic wastewater treatment facilities and collection systems within a three-mile radius of the proposed facility.

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How can the public participate in the wastewater permitting process?

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