Texas Water Quality Board:
An Inventory of Texas Water Quality Board Reports and Hearing Materials at the Texas State Archives, 1962-1977
Water quality management in Texas traces its roots to the creation of Texas Department of Public Health and Vital Statistics in 1903 (Senate Bill 168, 28th Texas Legislature, Regular Session). The new agency absorbed the Texas Quarantine Department and shifted the focus from quarantine functions to broader public health activities. Among the agency's goals were to preserve the water supply by preventing pollution and to promote the general welfare with proper sanitary law. In 1909, the Department of Public Health and Vital Statistics was abolished and the Texas Board of Health was created to handle public health issues (Senate Bill 8, 31st Legislature, 1st Called Session). This new agency's enacting legislation required it to draft a comprehensive Sanitary Code, which would address waste treatment in more detail. The agency also enforced water drinking standards. Concern over water quality grew within the United States and Texas in the 1940s and 1950s. Passed in 1948, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Public Law 80-845, 80th U.S. Congress) encouraged collaboration between the Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service and state and local entities to develop programs for the elimination or reduction of the pollution of interstate waters and tributaries and for improving the sanitary condition of surface and underground waters. In Texas, representatives from the Texas State Department of Health, the Texas State Game and Fish Commission, the Texas Board of Water Engineers, the Texas Railroad Commission, and the office of the Texas Attorney General met on a voluntary and unscheduled basis in the late 1940s and early 1950s to discuss issues affecting the state's water quality. In 1953, the Texas Water Pollution Advisory Council (TWPAC), formed within the Texas State Department of Health, became the state's first formal entity focused solely on water pollution control (House Bill 448, 53rd Legislature, Regular Session). The TWPAC was comprised of the Texas State Health Officer, executive secretary of the Texas Game and Fish Commission, chairman of the Texas Board of Water Engineers, chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, and the Texas Attorney General. The chairman was elected by the board's members. The TWPAC promoted collaboration between its members' agencies in order to consult and advise groups and industries affected by water quality related laws. It also urged cooperation by enforcement agencies and local entities to improve water quality in Texas. Additionally, the TWPAC encouraged research studies and the dissemination of information relating to water pollution and its control, prevention, and abatement. The TWPAC was purely advisory and met once a month.
In 1961, the Texas Pollution Control Act eliminated the TWPAC and established the Texas Water Pollution Control Board (TWPCB), creating the state's first true pollution control agency (House Bill 24, 57th Legislature, 1st Called Session). The TWPCB advocated voluntary cooperation to restore and preserve water; encouraged the formation and organization of advocacy groups, associations, municipalities, industry, and other users potential pollutors to hold forums to discuss and formulate plans for the prevention and abatement of pollution; established policies and procedures in respect to pollution control functions; conducted or caused studies and research related to pollution abatement and control problems, disposal systems, and the treatment of sewage, industrial, and other wastes; and had the ability to inspect and investigate conditions relating to pollution. The TWPCB was comprised of nine members, six of whom were appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate. The governor appointed one member representing the manufacturing industry; one member concerned primarily with water supply, distribution, and use; one member representing agriculture and soil conservation interests; one member representing fish, aquatic life, and wildlife conservation interests; one member representing municipalities who was experienced and well-informed in municipal health and sanitation matters; and one member representing oil and gas producers. Geographic locations were also considered to ensure all major regions of the state were represented. These members were appointed to six-year terms. The remaining three TWPCB members consisted of ex officios: the chairman of the Board of Water Engineers, the Texas State Commissioner of Health, and the executive secretary of the Game and Fish Commission. Members elected the chairman and vice chairman. The TWPCB also appointed an executive secretary, who was trained and experienced in the field of environmental sanitation, pollution abatement, and public health. The executive secretary administered the water pollution control activities on behalf of the board. The TWPCB met once each month. The board also held public hearings on an as needed basis and had the power to issue permits for the discharge of waste into or adjacent to waters within the state. Public hearings were conducted to receive pertinent and relevant proof from any party of interest, compel attendance of witnessed, and make findings of fact and determinations. The board delegated the authority to take testimony at hearings to one or more of its members or TWPCB employees. The board also had the power to make, alter, or modify any orders, rules, and regulations if any such order required the discontinuance of discharge of waste into any waters of the state after a public hearing.
The Texas Water Quality Act, passed in 1967, established the Texas Water Quality Board (TWQB), which assumed the functions, powers, duties, and responsibilities of the TWPCB (Senate Bill 204, 60th Legislature, Regular Session). The TWQB became the chief agency to oversee water quality. It consisted of seven members, three of which were appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate. The other four members consisted of the executive director of the Texas Water Development Board, the State Commissioner of Health, the executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the chairman of the Railroad Commission. Members elected the chairman and vice chairman. The TWQB established guidelines for wastewater discharge and was involved in the administration and inspection of proposed sewage treatment facilities and the proper appropriation of funds for such projects. The board held public hearings for permit applications, conducted research, and coordinated efforts with other state agencies to provide for effective water quality control. The Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act authorized the TWQB to regulate industrial solid waste and the Texas Department of Health to regulate municipal solid waste (Senate Bill 125, 61st Legislature, Regular Session). In 1977, the Water Development Board, the Texas Water Rights Commission, and the TWQB combined to form the Texas Department of Water Resources (Senate Bill 1139, 65th Legislature, Regular Session). The Texas Water Development Board was set up as the policy-making body of the new agency. The Texas Water Rights Commission became a quasi-judicial body that ruled on permits. The TWQB was abolished and its functions split among the other two bodies within the Texas Department of Water Resources.
In 1985, the 69th Legislature dissolved the Department of Water Resources (Senate Bill 249, Regular Session), transferring regulatory enforcement to the recreated Texas Water Commission (TWC). Planning and financial responsibilities transferred to the recreated Texas Water Development Board. In 1991, the 72nd Legislature, 1st Called Session, passed Senate Bill 2 in an effort to consolidate the state's regulatory programs for air, water, and waste. In accordance with this bill, Department of Health sections dealing with solid waste, drinking water protection, and wastewater treatment were to be transferred to the TWC by March 1, 1992. On September 1, 1993, the TWC was abolished and its functions were consolidated to form the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC). The TWC became the core of the TNRCC, and the TWC's three full-time commissioners automatically became the commissioners of the TNRCC. Legislation in 2001 authorized a name change for the TNRCC (House Bill 2919, 77th Legislature, Regular Session) to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, effective September 1, 2002.
(Sources include: "Texas Water Quality Board," Handbook of Texas Online; the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality website (http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/about/tceqhistory.html); and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality appraisal report (December 2011), all accessed on November 4, 2015; Texas Water Pollution Control Advisory Council annual reports; various laws and rules; and the records themselves.)
The Texas Water Quality Board established guidelines for wastewater discharge, held public hearings for permit applications, conducted research relating to water quality, and coordinated efforts with other state agencies to provide for effective water quality control. Records document the hearing and permitting process and consist of board meeting minutes, agenda (also titled indexes), lists of meeting attendees, reports, hearing transcripts, press releases, and public notices created by the Texas Water Quality Board, and its predecessor the Texas Water Pollution Control Board. Records date 1962-1977. Subjects include potential risks to water quality, concern over the effect of certain pollutants on specific water resources, the effect of federal Environmental Protection Agency guidelines and requirements on Texas entities, procedures to balance economic growth while protecting water quality, water policy versus private property rights, water quality's influence on recreation activities, the progress of the Houston Ship Channel survey and the resulting creation of the Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority, and findings of other research studies regarding the quality of Texas aquifers including the Edwards Aquifer and the Ogallala Aquifer.
Public hearings were held for the issuance, renewal, removal, amendment, or revocation of any permit for the discharge of waste into or adjacent to Texas waters. Public hearing notices summarized the contents of the permit application and often have information about proposed discharge permit application, fact sheets regarding the application (including the applicant's name and industry, body of water involved, and type of pollutants), and map of the site. The main purpose of each public hearing was to obtain pertinent and relevant proof from any party of interest, compel attendance of witnesses, make findings of fact, and report findings to the board at large. Permit applicants include river authorities, water control improvement districts, fresh water supply districts, municipal utility districts, municipalities for sewage and landfill projects, state agencies such as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority, oil and gas companies, power and lighting companies, and private development corporations.
Press releases, public hearing reports, and public hearing notices are incomplete. Minutes document in a thorough but summary fashion the official actions and decisions of the board in its meetings. Agenda, also titled indexes, inform the public as to what will be discussed and/or decided at each meeting as well as the order of these actions. Lists of meeting attendees and agenda attachments (primarily consisting of reports and fact sheets regarding select permit applications) are also present with the minutes. Minutes and agenda are in bound volumes.
To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.
Restrictions on Access
Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.
Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
(Identify the item), Texas Water Quality Board reports and hearing materials. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession numbers: 1998/209, 2006/058, 2006/331, 2006/332, 2011/320
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Legislative Reference Library on July 7, 1998; November 8, 2005, January 26, 2006, and February 17, 2011.
Processed by Anna M. Reznik, November 2015
Detailed Description of the Records