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Texas Surface Water Permit (19-TX-c)

In Texas, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) issues surface water permits. Under, Tex. Water Code, Title 2, Chapter 11 Water Rights, surface water permits are only issued if a proposed appropriation is made for unappropriated water, complies with state laws and regulations, and the proposed appropriation does not unlawfully interfere with an existing water right.


Surface Water Permit Process

19-TX-c.1 – Application for or Amendment to Permit to Appropriate Public Water and Associated Documents

To apply for a surface water permit in Texas a developer must file the appropriate application and supporting documentation with the TCEQ. The TCEQ issues permits to use non-appropriated water in Texas.

The TCEQ provides applications for new surface water permits and applications to amend existing surface water permits.


An application to appropriate unappropriated state water must:

  1. Be in writing and sworn to;
  2. Contain the name and post-office address of the applicant;
  3. Identify the source of water supply;
  4. State the nature and purposes of the proposed use or uses and the amount of water to be used for each purpose;
  5. State the location and describe the proposed facilities;
  6. State the time within which the proposed construction is to begin;
  7. State the time required for the application of water to the proposed use or uses; and
  8. Contain the name and address of the holder of any lien on:
i. Any water right permit, certified filing, or certificate of adjudication to be granted under the permit for which application is made; or
ii. Any land to which that water right permit, certified filing, or certificate of adjudication would be appurtenant.

If the application is for a seasonal permit, the application must also state the months or seasons of the year the water is to be used.

If the application is for a temporary permit, the application must also state the period of the proposed temporary use.

If the application is for a term permit, the application form used must also state that on expiration of a term permit the applicant does not have an automatic right to renew the permit.

If the application is for a permit to construct a storage reservoir, the application must also contain evidence that the applicant has mailed notice of the application to each member of the governing body of each county and municipality in which the reservoir, or any part of the reservoir, will be located.

Map and Plat

The application must be accompanied by a map or plat drawn on tracing linen on a scale not less than one inch equals 2,000 feet. The map or plat must show substantially:

  1. The location and extent of the proposed facilities;
  2. The location of the headgate, intake, pumping plant, or point of diversion by course and distance from permanent natural objects or landmarks;
  3. The location of the main ditch or canal and the locations of the laterals or branches of the main ditch or canal;
  4. The course of the water supply;
  5. The position, waterline, and area of all lakes, reservoirs, or basins intended to be used or created;
  6. The point of intersection of the proposed facilities with any other ditch, canal, lateral, lake, or reservoir; and
  7. The location of any ditch, canal, lateral, reservoir, lake, dam, or other similar facility already existing in the area, drawn in a different colored ink than that used to represent the proposed facilities, and the name of the owner of the existing facility.

In addition the map or plat must also contain:

  1. The name of the proposed facility or enterprise;
  2. The name of the developer; and
  3. A certificate of the surveyor, giving the date of his survey, his name and post-office address, and the date of the application which the certificate accompanies.

19-TX-c.2 to 19-TX-c.5 - TCEQ Review of Application Materials

The TCEQ will determine if the application complies with Tex. Water Code, Title 2, Chapter 11 Water Rights and the TCEQ rules (30 TAC 295 Water Rights, Procedural and 30 TAC 297 Water Rights, Substantive).

If the TCEQ determines the application does not comply, it will require the developer to amend the application.

If the application passes the TCEQ’s initial review the TCEQ will officially record the application in the TCEQ’s records.

19-TX-c.6 to 19-TX-c.8 – TCEQ Preliminary Examination

The TCEQ will make a preliminary examination of the application. If there is no unappropriated water in the source of the supply or if the proposed appropriation unlawfully interferes with existing surface water rights, the TCEQ will deny the application.

If the TCEQ denies the application the TCEQ will issue a Letter of Denial.

19-TX-c.9 – TCEQ Notice of Application

The TCEQ will provide notice to persons, that within in the judgment of the TCEQ may be affected by the applications, including all navigation districts within the river basin of the application and all claimants and appropriators of water from the application source supply.

In the notice the TCEQ will:

  1. State the name and address of the developer;
  2. State the date the application was filed;
  3. State the purpose and extent of the proposed appropriation of water;
  4. Identify the source of supply and the place where the water is to be stored or taken or diverted from the source of supply;
  5. Specify the time and location where the commission will hold a public hearing (only if requested); and
  6. Give any additional information the commission considers necessary.

19-TX-c.10 – Publish Notice of Application

The developer is required to publish the TCEQ’s notice at least once in a newspaper that is regularly published or circulated within the section of the state where the source of the water is located.

19-TX-c.11 to 19-TX-c.13 – Does the TCEQ Commissioner, Executive Director, or an Affected Person Request a Public Hearing?

The TCEQ commissioner, the TCEQ executive director, or an affected person has 30 days after the newspaper publication of the TCEQ’s notice to request a public hearing.

If a public hearing is requested the TCEQ will hold the hearing at the time and date listed by its notice.

19-TX-c.14 to 19-TX-c.16 – Does the TCEQ Approve the Application?

After the public hearing or after the 30 day comment period if no hearing is requested, the TCEQ will issue a written decision granting or denying the application.

The TCEQ will either issue a Letter of Denial or a Permit to Appropriate Public Water to the developer.

The developer’s right to take and use water is limited to the extent and purpose(s) stated in the permit.

19-TX-c.17 – Record Permit with the County Clerk

The TCEQ will transmit any approved permits to the county clerk of the county in which the appropriation of water is to be made.

The county clerk will officially record the permit in its records.




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Edit Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Water Access and Water Rights Issues Contact
512.239.3678

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