The Oil and Gas Division's Rule 8, Water Protection, had its origins in Rule 20, which became effective in 1919. Rule 20 then read as follows:
FRESH WATER TO BE PROTECTED - Fresh water, whether above or below the surface, shall be protected from pollution, whether in drilling or plugging.
In 1933, the Commission amended Rule 20 to state that fresh water was also to be protected from pollution when disposing of produced salt water. During the 1964 revision of the Statewide Rules, Rule 20 and Rule 55 (a regulation on exploratory wells which became effective March 1956) were combined in Rule 8. Subsequently, the Commission amended Rule 8 to include the no-pit order (January 1969), regulations on preventing pollution from offshore facilities (May 1969), regulations on hauling salt water (January 1977), and regulations allowing administrative approval of applications for permits for impervious collecting pits (October 1980).
On March 5, 1984, the Commission adopted amendments to Rule 8, which became effective May 1, 1984. Almost all previously permitted pits had to be repermitted under new, more stringent standards. For the first time, Rule 8 applied new permit regulations to several types of pits and disposal methods. In addition, Rule 8 included three new subsections covering definitions, record keeping, and penalties. The amendments retained the salt water hauler regulations and offshore pollution prevention regulations without change. Also, the rule retained the heart of the provisions that were old Rules 20 and 55.
Perhaps the most important concept of the 1984 revision was that the rule itself or a permit must expressly authorize waste handling techniques. For example, reserve pits and basic sediment pits do not have to be permitted provided they are operated under conditions specified in the rule. However, an operator must seek a permit for an emergency saltwater storage pit, and the rule sets out the procedures for obtaining that permit.
Since 1984, the Commission amended Rule 8 to clarify the requirements for giving notice of a permit application (March 19860:
- to specify the waste-generating activities to which the rule applies (January 1987); to allow for staggered renewal of salt water hauler permits (January 1987);
- to adopt by reference the Memorandum of Understanding between the Railroad Commission of Texas, the Texas Water Commission, and the Texas Department of Health concerning the division of jurisdiction among the agencies (December 1987);
- to expand waste hauler requirements (January 1992);
- to adopt requirements relating to pollution control and oil and gas waste haulers (March 1996; and
- to include provisions to implement the portions of the Texas Coastal Management Program applicable to actions governed under Rule 8 (effective January 1997).
On April 15, 2013, the Commission amended Chapter 4, Subchapter B (Commercial Recycling) and Rule 8 (Water Protection) to encourage recycling in the oil field. These amendments streamlined permitting different classifications of solid and fluid commercial recycling in Chapter 4, Subchapter B, and authorized in Rule 8 certain types of fluid recycling on oil and gas leases without a permit. Pits used in conjunction with this type of authorized recycling may also be used, subject to requirements in Rule 8, without a permit.