Fourteen major rivers, more than a hundred lakes, and 23 aquifers comprise the major sources of freshwater in Texas. It sounds like Texas has plenty of water, but the reality is these resources are shared across five metropolitan cities and distributed across a state the size of France with two-thirds of the state comprising arid to semi-arid environments. The water is also used for a variety of applications, each of which has specific desired levels of water quality.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) enforces the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards (WQS) (Title 30, Chapter 307 of the Texas Administrative Code). The WQS serves to protect or improve the quality of the water resources within the state by regulating the three principle drivers of water quality: water chemistry, physics or hydraulics, and aquatic biology. Over time, new scientific data, testing capabilities and detection standards, or changes in resource usage may warrant revisions to the WQS.

The TCEQ adopted revisions to the WQS on February 12, 2014. Major highlights of the changes are:

  • Based upon the results of multiple Use Attainability Analyses (UAAs), changes were made to the designated uses and standards of several water bodies. Many water bodies were also listed for site specific toxic criteria.
  • The Primary Contact Recreation 2 category was created with a limit of 206 colony forming units of E. coli.
  • Temperature criteria were altered to include industrial cooling water areas. Mixing zone areas were specified for given parameters.
  • Tissue-based criteria for mercury, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and DDT were revised and are now based upon water column concentrations.

These and other changes to the WQS have the capacity to strongly affect business with potentially new sampling protocols, permitting time, and costs. To help businesses navigate these new regulations, feel free to ask us any questions. We can help keep businesses covered by coordinating short permitting times.

Contact: Neil Boitnott at or (903) 525-9838

Learn more about RS&H’s permitting and environmental services here.

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About the author

Kate Lindekugel
Kate Lindekugel
As an environmental scientist, Kate has more than 13 years of experience including ecological surveys and field studies, functional assessments, preparing environmental reports and permits, data management, stream channel and wetland restoration, peer reviewed research, and coordinating with local, state, and federal regulatory agencies, as well as public and private stakeholders.