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COVID-19: Public Water Systems

Information to assist public water systems to minimize impacts due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

State and federal regulations have established treatment requirements for public water systems that prevent waterborne pathogens such as viruses from contaminating drinking water. COVID-19 is a type of virus that is particularly susceptible to disinfection and standard treatment and disinfection processes are expected to be effective.

TCEQ is emphasizing the importance of maintaining adequate disinfectant treatment at your public water system as under TCEQ’s rules (minimum 0.2 mg/L free chlorine or 0.5 mg/L chloramine measured as total chlorine) to ensure continued health protection of drinking water (Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 290, 290.104(f)(2)).

This letter from EPA authorizes public water systems, their staff, and their suppliers as essential businesses and workersExit the TCEQ Adobe Acrobat PDF Document in responding to COVID-19.

Preparation Resources

Public water systems should continue to conduct all routine operations and compliance monitoring based on requirements in TCEQ’s rules.

Who to Contact if You’re Unable to Collect Samples

If you are unable to facilitate the collection of any compliance samples, please reach out to the appropriate contact provided below:

Additional Resources

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Preparation Steps for Public Water Systems

Your system should take this opportunity to establish processes that will ensure that all required compliance reporting can be completed. The most serious impact to Texas’ public water systems is expected to be from absenteeism as water operators cannot work and must care for themselves or their family members. Make sure there is an up-to-date and accurate plan to continue operations so that an interim operator will be able to successfully operate the plant and be aware of all of your professional contacts if you are unable to work.

Prepare for an Extended Absence

Ensure Adequate Chemical Supplies (specifically disinfection chemicals)

  • Prepare a list of chemical supplier contacts, the specific chemical you typically order, and the quantities of each chemical. Chemical suppliers may be impacted by absenteeism too.
  • Keep in touch with your chemical suppliers to verify that they can continue to make deliveries.
  • Don't allow chemical supplies to drop to critical levels before reordering.
  • Have a backup list of suppliers ready.

Ensure that Routine Samples can be Analyzed

Prepare a List of Critical System Operations

  • Compile this list of critical system operations in case an operator who is unfamiliar with your PWS must operate your system.
  • Make sure your standard operation procedures (SOPs) are up to date and in a location where they can be easily found.
  • Make sure your plant operations manual is up-to-date and reflects the current equipment, treatment, storage, and pumping facilities on-site, and the schedule for any critical preventative maintenance and equipment calibrations.
  • Make sure your monitoring plan is up-to-date and reflects the current chemical addition and sampling locations both in the plant and in the distribution system.

Prepare Equipment

  • Perform critical equipment maintenance and calibrations ahead of schedule. If special tools or keys are necessary to perform these procedures, make sure the tools or keys are left at the water system and in a location where they are easily found.

Prepare for Monitoring

  • Prepare instructions for completing any regulatory monitoring reports and the frequency they are required to be submitted to TCEQ. If they are submitted electronically, make sure the website and password are available for the interim operator.

Ensure Current Operator Information

  • Contact your County's emergency response coordinator and your TCEQ Regional office Adobe Acrobat PDF Document for help if there is a possibility that your operator is unavailable to continue running the public water system. Please ensure that anyone operating your system on your behalf contacts the TCEQ regional office that serves your area.

For more information, please refer to TCEQ’s webpage Preparing Your Public Water System for a Disaster.

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Guidance for Operations

Boil Water Notice Procedures

  • In the event that you need to issue a Boil Water Notice (BWN) you can find templates and instructions on our webpage, Public Notice to Boil Water

Well Disinfection Guidance

List of Water Operations Companies by TCEQ Region

Non-Community System Closure

  • If you are a non-community system (i.e. restaurant, day care, school, gas station, etc.) and choose to temporarily cease operations in response to COVID-19, you must confirm that you are not doing business and do not meet the definition of a Public Water System.
    • If you can confirm your system status, notify the TCEQ at PWSINVEN@tceq.texas.gov with your water system name and PWSID number, closure date, contact representative and information during the closure, and anticipated start-up date.
    • If your system remains closed for an extended period of time, i.e. longer than a month, please continue to keep TCEQ informed with a status update email to PWSINVEN@tceq.texas.gov.

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Technical Assistance

The TCEQ is committed to assisting you if your utility is impacted by COVID-19. If you need technical assistance with treatment, please contact a member of the Plan Review Team or Response and Capacity Development Team at PlanDist@tceq.texas.gov.

For assistance with compliance sampling, please contact the Drinking Water Quality Team at PWSChem@tceq.texas.gov.

If you need emergency equipment or supplies, such as a generator or bottled water, please contact your local emergency manager (e.g. city mayor, county judge or emergency management coordinator).

  • Your county or local emergency-management coordinator may be able to help obtain assistance for your water or wastewater system. Contact your local government officials (city mayor, county judge, or emergency management coordinator). Often, the county judge may also serve as the emergency-management coordinator for the area. If not, that office can tell you who to contact. List of county judgesExit the TCEQ.
  • Information on state emergency management, including the state District Coordinator is through the Texas Division of Emergency ManagementExit the TCEQ.

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Emergency Approvals

Construction approvals under emergency situations may be authorized with plans and specifications submitted after construction. Such emergency approvals may be for any of the following:

  • An interconnection or well drilling when a PWS is at risk of losing pressure due to inadequate source water or source water contamination.
  • Low disinfection situations.
  • Other facility changes that are needed immediately to protect public health.

PWSs needing emergency authorization should provide all of the following by email to PlanDist@tceq.texas.gov:

  • Name and PWS identification number
  • Contact person and contact information
  • Details on the proposed improvement
  • Engineer that will be submitting the engineering plans

Contact Us

If you have questions or need immediate assistance, please contact the TCEQ regional office that serves your county or call the TCEQ’s emergency hotline at 1-888-777-3186. Find contact information for TCEQ regional offices at the TCEQ Region Directory.

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