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Relating to a volume-based exemption from reporting requirements for certain accidental discharges or spills from wastewater facilities.
SB 912, if passed, would modify the Water Code (Section
26.039) by amending and adding certain subsections. Currently, if an accidental
oil discharge occurs and the operator of the facility is a private party that
facility must notify the Texas Natural Resource Commission. 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.
SB 912 would allow operators to not report accidental discharges 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 also require that any facility which causes, or may cause, accidental discharges submit a monthly report which describes accidental spills which occur each month and the preceding month.
SB 912 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 SB 912 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.
The second chamber sponsor is Rep. Crownover.