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HB 2051, if passed, would modify the Water Code (Section 26.039) by amending and adding certain subsections. Currently, if an accidental wastewater discharge occurs and the operator of the facility is a private party that facility must notify the TCEQ. If an accidental discharge occurs and the facility is operated by the local government, the operator must notify the local government and the local media. These reports must be made within 24 hours of the spill.
HB 2051 would allow certain operators to report accidental discharges on a monthly basis if certain conditions are met. These conditions are, the discharge occurs at a wastewater treatment collection facility owned or operated by the local government, is a spill on 1,000 gallons or less, is not associated with other spills, is controlled before the discharge adversely affects water sources, and will not endanger human health or the environment.
The bill would require that any facility which causes, or may cause, accidental discharges submit a monthly report which describes accidental spills which occur for that month and the preceding month.
HB 2051 would create a beneficial change to accidental wastewater spill reporting requirements to government owned or operated wastewater treatment centers. The bill would not make the same change for private wastewater treatment centers.
We agree with the notion behind the bill; that spills which are sufficiently small and do no damage do not merit the reporting requirements as they currently stand. We are concerned about selective treatment of public facilities versus private facilities.
Last session we supported a substantially similar bill which would have changed the reporting requirements for both municipal and private wastewater treatment facilities. In our view that was a preferable approach to this issue.
While we support HB 2051 on the basis that it does limit government by discontinuing unnecessary reporting requirements, we recommend the bill be amended to make it broadly applicable to all wastewater treatment facilities instead of exclusively benefiting municipal facilities. Such an amendment would strengthen a bill that already moves in the right direction.