Compliance Window Closing for Submitting Water Emergency Preparedness Plans to TCEQ

image description

Jessica Brown

Water/Wastewater Planner

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is sending letters to Texas water utilities about a 60-day compliance window if they haven’t yet submitted their emergency preparedness plan for agency review. This gives utilities a short time frame for compliance to avoid enforcement action.

Under the law known as SB 3, utilities were required to send TCEQ their plans and implementation timelines by March 1, 2022. Those that didn’t meet the deadline are now being given 60 calendar days to comply.

The goal of SB3 is for water utilities to have in place Emergency Preparedness Plans to provide 20 psi during an extended power outage lasting more than 24 hours.

What Should Utilities Do If They Receive a Notice Letter?

  • OPTION #1: Immediately initiate development of an emergency preparedness plan (EPP) using the TCEQ template. Freese and Nichols can help with this effort, as we prepared many of these for Texas utilities in time for the March 1 deadline.
  • OPTION #2: A utility can request a financial waiver if providing emergency operations will cause a significant financial burden to their customers. However, if the request is denied, the utility still will have to submit an EPP. More information about requesting a financial waiver can be found here:

Water utilities have multiple scenarios for meeting SB 3 requirements, including backup generators, alternate power sources, redundant interconnectivity between pressure zones and utilizing storage, as well as enhanced water demand management strategies.

An EPP must demonstrate that your utility will maintain sufficient capacity for the system, including raw water intake pump stations, treatment plants, treated water pump stations and pressure facilities, to provide at least 20 psi during a power outage lasting over 24 hours.

How Freese and Nichols Can Help You

Our staff has been working with multiple cities to develop their emergency response plans and implementation timelines, and we have in-depth understanding of the requirements and how to meet them, including under a short time frame.

With 14 offices across Texas, our experienced team is ready to provide full-service support to help you develop and implement your plan.

We bring multiple levels of expertise to this challenge:

  • Our water/wastewater planning staff can leverage their water system and modeling knowledge to provide you best value options. They also can tap our in-house electrical team in implementing your emergency preparedness plan.
  • Our staff members have a demonstrated track record of meeting TCEQ deadlines for regulatory compliance.
  • Our funding experts can assist your utility in identifying potential funding sources for required improvements.

To learn more: Contact Jessica Brown at or 817-735-7406, or your main Freese and Nichols contact.

image description

Jessica Brown is Freese and Nichols’ Water/Wastewater Planning Practice Leader, based in Fort Worth.

More about SB 3 and Emergency Preparedness Plans

Jessica Brown

What’s Next for Water Emergency Preparedness Plans

As Texas water utilities move from submitting their emergency preparedness plans to TCEQ into the implementation phase, here are important tips that can help with compliance.

Learn More

Jessica Brown

New Law Sets Early 2022 Deadline for All Texas Water Utilities

Learn more about Texas’ new requirement that water utilities develop plans to keep their services operating during an extended power outage.

Learn More