August 2021 Update: See the Notice to Oil & Gas Operators: Jurisdiction at oil & gas sites where infrastructure and activities subject to RRC jurisdiction are part of a TPDES “Treatment Unit” at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/publications-and-notices/notices-to-operators/
January 2021 Update: In accordance with Texas House Bill (HB) 2771, amending Section 26.131 of the Texas Water Code, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted authority on January 15, 2021 to issue permits for the discharge of produced water, hydrostatic test water, and gas plant effluent to surface waters resulting from certain oil and gas activities from the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
If an operator has a pending discharge application with the RRC and the permit was not issued prior to TCEQ authorization, the application will not be processed. The applicant must contact TCEQ for information about the Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) program, for facilities within its jurisdiction.
Please visit the TCEQ website for information about Oil and Gas Wastewater Permits: https://www.tceq.texas.gov/assistance/industry/oil-and-gas/oil-and-gas-wastewater-permits
Transfer of Oil and Gas Permitting Authority
New Individual Permit Applications
As of January 15, 2021 the TCEQ has permitting authority for all oil and gas discharges subject to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) authorization. Therefore, the TCEQ is responsible for all permit applications for new TPDES oil and gas permits received on or after the date of program authorization (January 15, 2021).
Pending Individual Permit Applications
If an individual NPDES permit application is pending on the date of program authorization, the TCEQ will complete the permitting process for these pending applications and either issue a TPDES permit or deny the application request.
If an individual NPDES oil and gas individual permit has a pending variance request or amendment/modification request or for which a permit appeal (including a petition for review before the Environmental Appeals Board) is pending on the date of program authorization, it will remain under EPA jurisdiction. Permitting authority for these permits shall transfer to the TCEQ upon final resolution of the pending variance or modification.
Effective (Active) Individual Permits
NPDES permits issued by the EPA shall remain effective until expiration, amendment/modification, or renewal as TPDES permits. The TCEQ will process all permit applications for renewal or amendment that are received after January 15, 2021. When the TCEQ issues a renewed or amended permit, the TPDES permit shall replace both the RRC-issued and EPA-issued permits.
At the time of renewal or amendment of an individual NPDES oil and gas permit, the TCEQ may request that the applicant apply to discharge under a general permit and cancel or terminate the individual permit if the facility meets the eligibility requirements of the general permit.
Effective (Active) General Permits
As of January 15, 2021, the TCEQ has permitting authority for NPDES oil and gas general permits, including permits that are administratively continued under 40 CFR § 122.6. The TCEQ has identified the following EPA-issued general permits that authorize oil and gas discharges that are administratively continued:
- NPDES General Permit Numbers TXG330000 and TXG260000.
The TCEQ will complete the general permit development process for these permits and either issue a TPDES general permit or suspend general permit development and require permittees to apply for a TPDES individual permit.
Railroad Commission Authority
The Railroad Commission will continue to regulate the application of oil and gas waste to land surface which will include hydrostatic test water, oil and gas wastes from a gas plant, and produced water. Land application of oil and gas waste is subject to permit conditions and must ensure that no waste is released to surface waters.
Hydrostatic Discharge to Land Surface
Hydrostatic test wastewater is used to test the integrity of storage tanks and pipelines under Commission jurisdiction. Discharge or application of the wastewater to land surface may require a minor permit. See our Application to Discharge Hydrostatic Test Water for more information. Other details are outlined in Rule 8(d)(6)(G).
Land Application of Produced Water and Gas Plant Effluent
The land application of produced water and gas plant effluent requires a permit from the RRC. See our Application Information for a Permit to Land Apply Produced Water or Gas Plant Effluent for more information.
If you have a collecting or skimming pit associated with a discharge, the pit permit will still be under RRC jurisdiction. Pit permit applications are made on the Application for Permit to Maintain and Use a Pit (Form H-11). Details of the permitting process, including notice requirements, for pits can be found in Rule 8(d)(6).
Contact stormwater is stormwater water that has come into contact with oil and gas waste. Contact stormwater is considered oil and gas waste and must be managed, stored and contained separated from non-contact stormwater and disposed of in an authorized manner. Discharge of contact stormwater is prohibited.
Non-contact stormwater is stormwater that has not contacted oil and gas waste. Non-contact stormwater may be discharged from facilities under RRC jurisdiction without a permit. However, a permit from the TCEQ may be required and Best Management Practices (BMPs) should be followed when managing non-contact stormwater.
On-Site Sewage Facility (OSSF)
In general, On-Site Sewage Facilities (OSSFs) are under the jurisdiction of the TCEQ. TCEQ jurisdiction includes OSSFs constructed and used at living quarters for oil and gas personnel, unless the OSSF is located at a well site under the jurisdiction of RRC or a RRC-permitted facility.
An OSSF may be constructed, operated, and maintained within the boundaries of a RRC-permitted facility or at a well site under RRC jurisdiction without an additional permit from the Commission if: the OSSF waste is not commingled with any other oil and gas waste; the system is designed by a professional engineer registered in the state of Texas or a sewage system installer licensed in the state of Texas; and the construction, operation, and maintenance of the OSSF complies with all applicable local, county, and state requirements.