The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)
Why are the rules (30 TAC Chapter 321, Subchapter A) changing?
To implement Senate Bill 2445, which became effective on September 1, 2009. This bill redefined various terms, but in particular focuses on the “boat pump-out station” and “surface water in the state.” Other changes are also being made for consistency with federal regulations.
What are the changes under the new rules and regulations?
- The frequency that boat pump-out stations are required to register will change from annual to biennial. The initial fee will remain $35 and renewals will cost $25. The certifications will expire on December 31st of every odd-numbered year.
- Under the new rule, no discharge zones (NDZ’s) will include all inland fresh water bodies, rivers that do not support interstate vessels, and coastal waters and estuaries not recognized as NDZ’s. An NDZ is a body of water that is protected from the discharge of treated or untreated sewage.
- If you have a permanently installed toilet on your boat, it must be connected to a marine sanitation device (MSD). An MSD is any device that is used to receive, retain or dispose of human body wastes. While operating on an NDZ, the MSD must be operated in accordance with federal regulations to ensure that discharges of sewage will not occur while the boat is located on the NDZ.
When will the new rules become effective?
The new rules became effective November 11, 2010.
How will the new rules affect marinas and the boating community?
- Currently, there are only 25 lakes that are protected as NDZ’s in Texas. As of now, there are roughly 2,400 TCEQ registered boaters in the state. When the new rule goes into effect, nearly 30,000 boaters will be required to register with the state and purchase a “Texas Clean Water Decal” by December 31, 2011.
- The increase in registered boaters has the potential to increase the need for designated pump-out stations.
- TCEQ will work with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to enforce the new rules and regulations. Both agencies welcome the assistance from marinas and local river authorities to educate the public on proper boat sewage disposal.
How is TCEO currently tracking registered boaters and pump-out stations?
- Currently, TCEQ receives applications for boat pump-out stations and marine sanitation device certifications through the mail. Payments can be received either via E-Pay, check or money orders. Upon receipt and confirmation of payment, TCEQ sends the boat or pump-out station owner a “Texas Clean Water Decal,” that expires on December 31st every odd-numbered year.
- The process of tracking the boater and pump-out information is currently performed manually through a TCEQ Access database. With the expectation that we will receive 10 times the number of applicants, an online system is in the process of being created. This online system is anticipated to be completed and functional by November 2011. This system will allow everyone to apply and pay (using E-Pay) online. This will expedite the process for a boat or marina owner to receive their decal.
- There will be “hardship” exceptions for applicants who do not have the ability or access to the internet. These applicants will be allowed to send their information and money so that their registration can be manually entered just like our current process.
What kind of outreach is TCEO doing to publicize and advertise information about the new Rules and Regulations and the Texas Boat Sewage Program?
- Currently, TCEQ is working with TPWD to promote important boater and marina information to the general public. TPWD already educates the public on boater safety and TCEQ is combining efforts to release as much information about the Boat Sewage Program as possible. This includes. pamphlets, newsletters, brochures and hand-outs.
- TCEQ is developing an in depth web page that is being finalized and should be out within a couple of months (ETA – beginning of September).
TCEQ Contact Information:
Clean Water Certification Program, 512-239-2628