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Evaluating Basins for New Watermaster Programs

The TCEQ assesses the potential role of a watermaster managing water rights in each basin with no existing watermaster program.

For each basin that does not have a watermaster program, the TCEQ:

  • evaluates each river basin or coastal basin
  • assesses whether to appoint a watermaster in that basin
  • reports our findings to the Legislature
  • repeats this assessment at least once every five years

TCEQ’s watermaster evaluations are required by Texas Water Code §§ 11.326(g) and (h)

What criteria will be considered?

The Commission outlined the following evaluation criteria in the Commission’s September 28, 2011 Work Session:

  • Is there a court order to create a watermaster?
  • Has a petition been received requesting a watermaster?
  • Have senior water rights been threatened, based on:
    • Either the history of senior calls or water shortages within the basin or
    • The number of water right complaints received on an annual basis in each basin?

Which basins are being evaluated this year?

The 2022 evaluation is complete, and the final commission agenda documentation can be viewed under Past Evaluations.

The 2023 evaluation will cover the Trinity River, San Jacinto River, Trinity-San Jacinto Coastal and Neches-Trinity Coastal Basins.

Watermaster Evaluation Stakeholder Meetings

Stakeholder meetings for the 2023 evaluation will tentatively take place in June 2023, and notice of those meetings will be posted here at least 30 days before the meetings.

Tentative 2023 Evaluation Schedule

    • February and March 2023 – Review data and mail initial outreach letters requesting input from stakeholders within the basins. Comment period begins.
    • April 2023 - Initial comment period ends.
    • March and April 2023 – Incorporate initial stakeholder comments into evaluation.
    • Early June 2023 – Hold stakeholder meetings and invite additional input.
    • June 2023 – Comment period ends.
    • August 2023 – Finalize Evaluation report.
    • September 2023 – Present findings and recommendations to the TCEQ Commissioners.

Past Watermaster Evaluations

The Executive Director conducted the first cycle of evaluations from 2012 through 2016, and the second cycle from 2017 through 2021. The third cycle of evaluations began in 2022.

2022: Upper Brazos River Basin (upstream of Possum Kingdom Lake), San Jacinto-Brazos Coastal Basin, Brazos-Colorado Coastal Basin, Colorado River Basin, and the Colorado-Lavaca Coastal Basins.

2021: Cypress Creek and Sulphur River Basins

2020: Canadian and Red River Basins

2019: Neches River and Sabine River Basins

2018: Trinity River, San Jacinto River, Trinity-San Jacinto Coastal and Neches-Trinity Coastal Basins.

2017: Upper Brazos River Basin (upstream of Possum Kingdom Lake), San Jacinto-Brazos Coastal Basin, Brazos-Colorado Coastal, Colorado River and the Colorado-Lavaca Coastal Basins 

2016: Cypress Creek and Sulphur River Basins

Participating in the Evaluation Process

To include the public and develop the best recommendations, we solicit input from stakeholders, including water right holders, domestic and livestock users, river authorities, agricultural, industrial and environmental organizations, the general public, and other interested parties.

We will begin to solicit input for the 2023 evaluation in early spring. The input received from stakeholders will be discussed at the TCEQ Commissioners’ Agenda tentatively scheduled for late summer.

If you have any questions about the evaluation process, contact us -

  • Email: watermaster@tceq.texas.gov
  • Regular Mail: Iliana Spaeth, Watermaster Section Liaison, Mail Code 160, TCEQ, P.O. Box 13087, Austin, Texas 78711-3087.