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Agency Activities: Compliance Assistance (FY2019-2020)

The following summarizes the agency’s activities regarding compliance assistance programs to encourage environmental improvements. (Part of Chapter 2—Biennial Report to the 87th Legislature, FY2019-FY2020)

TCEQ uses technical assistance, education, and pollution prevention programs to encourage environmental improvements. The Program Support and Environmental Assistance Division (PSEAD) steers many of these programs in a direction that focuses on agency priorities and aligns with agency regulatory systems.

In fiscal 2019 and 2020, the division responded to 15,091 requests for assistance from small businesses and local governments. Of those, 277 received one-on-one assistance at their business site or facility.

For fiscal 2019, PSEAD's Site Visit program continued to focus resources on the requirement of the federal Energy Policy Act (EACT), that all registered petroleum storage tanks (PSTs) must undergo an investigation at least once every three years. Through the Site Visit Program, PST facilities have an opportunity to receive an EACT site visit. If they achieve full compliance with the EACT checklist, they receive credit for their three-year investigation. Site visits do not lead to an investigation or citation, unless there is an imminent threat to human health or the environment.

In fiscal 2019, 145 EACT site visits were completed, resulting in 130 EACT-compliant facilities. Non-compliant facilities received recommendations for resolving non-compliance issues so that they can prepare for a future EACT investigation. In fiscal 2019, the Site Visit program also piloted a new EACT Abandoned checklist and conducted 33 site visits at potentially abandoned PST facilities.

In fiscal 2020, the Site Visit program focused resources on EACT Abandoned site visits and conducted 221 site visits at potentially abandoned PST facilities. In fiscal 2020, TCEQ developed a process to establish when a PST can be considered abandoned and removed from the EACT investigation cycle. This process also provides guidance to other parts of the agency for determining what additional assistance or action may be necessary to mitigate risks that may be presented by these abandoned PSTs.

During fiscal 2019, the Site Visit program, utilizing a grant from EPA, conducted 221 site visits at potentially abandoned PST facilities in the 60 counties affected by Hurricane Harvey to assess damage that may have resulted from the hurricane. In fiscal 2019, the Site Visit program also conducted comprehensive site assessments at seven of these facilities to determine whether a release had occurred. In fiscal 2020, the Site Visit program conducted an additional 25 comprehensive site assessments. Cleanups were initiated at three facilities and completed at one facility.

The Program Support and Environmental Assistance Division hosts a variety of workshops to help educate the regulated community.

During fiscal 2019 and 2020, Nitrification Action Plan workshops were hosted for public water systems (PWSs) that use chloramines for disinfection. Licensed operators received continuing-education units for attending. Workshops were held in Tyler (2), Willis, Lumberton, Waco, Corpus Christi, Dallas, and Ft. Worth. In total, the workshops had 277 attendees. Workshops planned for the spring and summer of 2020 were cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In fiscal 2020, compliance workshops for Transient Non-Community (TNC) Public Water Systems were held in Fredericksburg and San Marcos. A total of 101 participants received a TNC Compliance Notebook to assist in preventing recordkeeping-related violations and to comply with the rules and regulations associated with producing and distributing drinking water.

In fiscal 2019, 18 PST compliance workshops were held across the state. A total of 444 participants received an Underground Storage Tank Compliance Notebook to help them be prepared for their upcoming EACT investigations. In fiscal 2020, four webinars were offered in lieu of in-person workshops, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Over 650 people registered to attend the webinars.

TCEQ's External Relations Division also offers educational opportunities and technical assistance through coordinated workshops, seminars, and education events, including the annual Environmental Trade Fair and Conference (ETFC) held in downtown Austin. There was a decrease in the number of events and attendees in fiscal 2020, due to the cancellation of events including the ETFC as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. During the last two years, the agency sponsored 12 seminars to provide technical information to almost 7,420 attendees.

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