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Texas Ground Water Discharge Permit (14-TX-e)

Pits are used in drilling operations to contain drilling related fluids and to prevent the contamination of groundwaters and surface waters. In Texas pits are regulated by the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) under 16 TAC 3.8 (Rule 8).


Ground Water Discharge Permit Process

14-TX-e.1 to 14-TX-e.2 – Will the Groundwater Discharge Require a Pit?

Certain types of discharges related to drilling operations do not require a pit or permit, these discharges are described in the RRC’s Rule 8(d)(3).

14-TX-e.3 – Is the Pit Authorized by Rule?

Certain types of pits are authorized by rule and do not require a permit, these pits are described in the RRC’s Rule 8(d)(4).

If a pit is authorized by rule then the RRC does not require a formal application and the developer may continue with the project.

14-TX-e.4 – Initiate Texas NPDES Permit

Texas NPDES Permitting Process:
14-TX-b

If a pollutant discharge will be made from the pit then the developer will also have to apply for an EPA NPDES permit and an RRC discharge permit.

14-TX-e.5 to 14-TX-e.8 – Application for Permit to Maintain and Use a Pit

Any pit not authorized by rule requires a permit from the RRC. To permit a pit a developer must complete RRC Form H-11 and complete additional requirement described in the RRC’s Supplemental Application Information for Permit to Maintain and Use a Commercial Oil and Gas Waste Disposal Pit. These procedures include but are not limited to:

  • File the application, including all attachment with the RRC’s main office in Austin, TX. On the same day file one copy of the application and its attachments with the appropriate RCC District Office.
  • Pay the appropriate fee or fees.
  • Notify the surface owner of the land where the pit will be located by mailing or delivering a copy of Form H-11 and provide a signed copy of the lease agreement. If the land where the pit is proposed is within corporate limits, also notify the city clerk or other appropriate city official. Contrary to Form h-11’s instructions all attachments must be included.
  • Notify offset surface owners of the permit application. Submit a copy of each notification letter sent to the offset surface owners, along with a statement indicating their names and addresses and the date that they were notified of this application.
  • Provided proper public notice by publishing notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the proposed pit is located. Notice must be published at least once each week for two consecutive weeks with the first publication occurring not earlier than the date the application is filed and not later than the 30th day after the date on which the application is filed.
Notice must include:
1. The date the application was filed;
2. A description of the location of the site for which the application was made, including the county in which the site is located, the name of the original survey and abstract number, and the direction and distance from the nearest municipality;
3. The name of the owner of the site;
4. The name of the applicant;
5. The type of fluid or waste to be disposed of;
6. The disposal method proposed; and
7. The procedure for protesting the application.
The application must include a clipping of the published notice and a sworn affidavit from the newspaper giving the date on which the notice was published and stating that the newspaper is of general circulation in the pertinent county. It is recommended that the developer use the RRC’s Form For Published Notice and Form for Affidavit of Publication.
  • If the pit is in a wetland, submit a copy of the Army Corp of Engineers Wetlands Permit or Permit Application.
  • Note: In addition to requirements listed by the RRC, the Director of the Oil and Gas Division of the RRC may require the developer to provide additional engineering, geological, or other information which the Director deems necessary to insure that a Pit Permit will not result in the waste of oil, gas, or geothermal resources or pollute the surface waters or groundwaters of the state.

The RRC will review the pit application for completeness.

14-TX-e.9 – Submit Public Comments and Protest

Affected parties, defined in Rule 8, have 15 days after a completed application is filed with the RRC to submit comments or protest the permit.

14-TX-e.10 to 14-TX-e.12 – Hold Public Hearing

If an affected party formally protests the Pit Permit the RRC will hold a public hearing.

Prior to the hearing the RRC will give adequate notice to any affected parties and the public.

14-TX-e.13 – Notification of Permit or Denial

The RRC will notify the developer if the permit is granted, granted with conditions, or denied.

Under Rule 8(d)(6)(A), the standards for permit issuance are:

A permit to maintain or use a pit for storage of oil field fluids, geothermal fluids or oil and gas wastes may only be issued if the RRC determines that the maintenance or use of such pit will not result in the waste of oil, gas, or geothermal resources or the pollution of surface or subsurface waters. A permit to dispose of oil and gas wastes by any method, including disposal into a pit, may only be issued if the RRC determines that the disposal will not result in the waste of oil, gas, or geothermal resources or the pollution of surface or subsurface water. A permit to maintain or use any unlined brine mining pit or any unlined pit, other than an emergency saltwater storage pit, for storage or disposal of oil field brines, geothermal resource waters, or other mineralized waters may only be issued if the RRC determines that the applicant has conclusively shown that use of the pit cannot cause pollution of surrounding productive agricultural land nor pollution of surface or subsurface water, either because there is no surface or subsurface water in the area of the pit, or because the surface or subsurface water in the area of the pit would be physically isolated by naturally occurring impervious barriers from any oil and gas wastes which might escape or migrate from the pit. Permits issued pursuant to this paragraph will contain conditions reasonably necessary to prevent the waste of oil, gas, or geothermal resources and the pollution of surface and subsurface waters. A permit to maintain or use a pit will state the conditions under which the pit may be operated, including the conditions under which the permittee shall be required to dewater, backfill, and compact the pit. Any permits issued pursuant to this paragraph may contain requirements concerning the design and construction of pits and disposal facilities, including requirements relating to pit construction materials, dike design, liner material, liner thickness, procedures for installing liners, schedules for inspecting and/or replacing liners, overflow warning devices, leak detection devices, and fences. However, a permit to maintain or use any lined brine mining pit or any lined pit for storage or disposal of oil field brines, geothermal resource waters, or other mineralized waters will contain requirements relating to liner material, liner thickness, procedures for installing liners, and schedules for inspecting and/or replacing liners.


14-TX-e.14 to 14-TX-e.17 – Does Developer Appeal a Decision to Deny or Grant with Conditions?

If the RRC denies a Pit Permit or grants the permit with conditions then the developer may appeal by requesting a hearing with the RRC.

Following the hearing between the RRC and the developer, the RRC may elect to modify or grant the Pit Permit.

14-TX-e.18 – RRC Pit Permit

The RRC issues Pit Permits. The developer is required to comply with all conditions imposed by the RRC on the Pit Permit and all conditions imposed by the related RRC discharge and EPA NPDES permits.

A permit granted by the RRC, may be modified, suspended, or terminated by the commission for good cause after notice and opportunity for hearing.

A finding of any of the following facts shall constitute good cause:

  1. Pollution of surface or subsurface water is occurring or is likely to occur as a result of the permitted operations;
  2. Waste of oil, gas, or geothermal resources is occurring or is likely to occur as a result of the permitted operations;
  3. The developer has violated the terms and conditions of the permit or RRC rules;
  4. The developer misrepresented any material fact during the permit issuance process;
  5. The developer failed to give the notice required by the RRC during the permit issuance process;
  6. A material change of conditions has occurred in the permitted operations, or the information provided in the application has changed materially.




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Edit Railroad Commission of Texas
Environmental Permitting Department General Phone Contact
512.463.3840

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Edit Railroad Commission of Texas
Ground Water Discharge Permitting Contact
512.463.2452

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