New Law Sets Early 2022 Deadline for All Texas Water Utilities

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Jessica Brown

Water/Wastewater Planner

As part of efforts to prepare Texas’ critical infrastructure for extreme weather emergencies, a new state law, SB 3, requires water utilities to develop and implement emergency preparedness plans to keep their services operating during an extended power outage.

All water utilities in Texas are affected, and key deadlines are approaching quickly. It’s essential to start planning now to meet the new requirements.

What Water Utilities Need to Know

By Nov. 1, 2021: Identify your critical water and wastewater facilities and notify your electrical provider(s) that they qualify for critical load status.
By March 1, 2022: Submit your emergency preparedness plan, as well as a timeline for implementing it, to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for approval.
By July 1, 2022: Have your emergency plan implemented.

Your AWIA Risk and Resiliency Assessment and Emergency Response Plan can help you in this process, but the new state-required plan will require greater detail.

Water utilities have multiple options for meeting the requirements of SB 3, including backup generators, alternate power sources, redundant interconnectivity between pressure zones and increased levels of storage, as well as options for water demand management strategies.

Your plan must demonstrate that each raw water intake pump station, treated water pump station and pressure facility in your system can maintain at least 20 psi during a power outage lasting beyond 24 hours.

How Freese and Nichols Can Help You With Compliance

For 127 years, Freese and Nichols has been helping water utilities meet their customers’ needs, both long-term and in emergencies. From 14 offices across Texas, our experienced team is ready to provide full-service support to comply with these new requirements and their short deadlines. We are already working with several utilities on preparing their plans.

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 developing your Emergency Preparedness Plan.
  • Our staff 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.

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