Texas Water Commission:
An Inventory of Water Commission Edwards Aquifer Correspondence at the Texas State Archives, 1970-1991, undated, bulk 1973-1988
Conservation and regulation of the state's water resources began early in the 20th century; regulation of air quality began in the early 1950s. In 1913, the Irrigation Act was passed by the 33rd Legislature (House Bill 37, Regular Session). The Act created the Texas Board of Water Engineers to establish and implement procedures for determining surface water rights. In 1917 a constitutional amendment to Article 16 authorized the creation of conservation and reclamation districts as needed. Freshwater supply districts were authorized by the 36th Legislature in 1919 (Senate Bill 19, 2nd Called Session) and the first river authority, the Brazos River Authority, was created in 1929 (House Bill 197, 41st Legislature, 2nd Called Session). A law governing the organization and operation of water improvement districts was passed in 1933 by the 43rd Legislature (House Bill 413, Regular Session). Underground water conservation districts were created in 1949 (House Bill 162, 51st Legislature, Regular Session). This legislation also declared groundwater (underground water) private property and authorized the State Board of Water Engineers to designate underground reservoirs and subdivisions thereto.
The Texas Department of Health initially had some regulatory power over water issues and it performed initial air quality studies for the state. Legislation was passed by the 49th Legislature in 1945 authorizing the Texas Department of Health to enforce drinking water standards for public water supply systems (Senate Bill 81, Regular Session), as part of an overall public health legislative initiative. In 1952 the Department of Health conducted the first air study in Texas and began an air sampling program in 1956.
Additional water conservation measures were enacted in 1957. The 55th Legislature created the Texas Water Development Board to forecast water supply needs and provide funding for water supply and conservation projects (House Bill 161, Regular Session). A water well drillers advisory group, the Water Well Drillers Board, was created in 1961 (House Bill 409, 57th Legislature, Regular Session). And, in 1962 the Texas Board of Water Engineers became the Texas Water Commission, with additional responsibilities for water conservation and pollution control (House Bill 12, 57th Legislature, 3rd Called Session).
Pollution and water control measures continued in 1961. The Texas Pollution Control Act was passed, which established the Texas State Water Pollution Control Board and eliminated the Water Pollution Advisory Council, creating the state's first true pollution control agency (House Bill 24, 57th Legislature, 1st Called Session). In 1965 the Texas Clean Air Act created the Texas Air Control Board, in the Department of Health, to monitor and regulate air pollution in the state (House Bill 362, 59th Legislature, Regular Session). Also in 1965, the Texas Water Commission became the Texas Water Rights Commission (Senate Bill 145, 59th Legislature, Regular Session) and functions not related to water rights were transferred to the Texas Water Development Board. In 1967 the Texas Water Quality Act established the Texas Water Quality Board (Senate Bill 204, 60th Legislature, Regular Session). In 1973 the 63rd Legislature removed the Texas Air Control Board from the Department of Health, making it an independent state agency (House Bill 739, 63rd Legislature, Regular Session).
The 65th Legislature passed legislation in 1977 that made a number of changes in the state's water agencies. The Texas Department of Water Resources (TDWR) was created by combining the three existing water agencies in an effort to consolidate the state's water programs (the Texas Water Rights Commission, the Texas Water Quality Board, and the Texas Water Development Board) (Senate Bill 1139, Regular Session). A six-member board, the Texas Water Development Board, was set up as a policymaking body for the new agency. The Water Rights Commission was renamed the Texas Water Commission and sat as a quasi-judicial body that ruled on permits. The Texas Water Quality Board was abolished.
In 1985 the 69th Legislature dissolved the Texas Department of Water Resources (Senate Bill 249, Regular Session). It transferred regulatory enforcement to the recreated Texas Water Commission, and planning and financial responsibilities to the recreated Texas Water Development Board.
In 1959, the Texas Legislature created the Edwards Underground Water District for the purposes of conserving, protecting, and recharging the waters of the Edwards Aquifer. The district supplied previously unavailable maps and assisted licensing authorities. The Texas Water Quality Board issued the first regulations for the protection of the aquifer recharge and buffer zones in 1970. The original district included the following five counties: Uvalde, Medina, Bexar, Comal, and Hays. However, in 1989, Uvalde and Medina withdrew from the district. Sources of pollution such as underground storage tanks, above-ground storage tanks, and sewer lines were regulated. Water-pollution abatement plans were first required in 1974. The installation of new underground storage tank sites had to be approved prior to construction, as of 1977. Beginning in 1984, plans were also required for regulated developments (such as residential, commercial, and industrial) and a geologic assessment required for housing developments with 100 or more family living units and non-residential developments greater than five acres. Also in 1984, ongoing testing requirements for sewer lines were established. Fees were assessed for all types of development in 1988. These one-time fees cover the review of the protection plans, inspections during and after construction is complete, and generally support program efforts. Programs of the EUWD include water quality investigations, water level monitoring programs, recharge enhancement activities, water conservation projects, and the funding of studies to enhance recharge of the Edwards Aquifer.
(Sources include: finding aid for the Texas Department of Water Resources High Plains-Ogallala Aquifer area study records; Guide to Texas State Agencies, 9th eds., 1996; and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality website article "Regulatory History of the Edwards Aquifer" available at http://www.tceq.texas.gov/field/eapp/history.html, accessed on March 28, 2012.)
The Texas Water Commission allocates the state's waters for public benefit by determining an appropriate balance between environmental protection and economic development. Types of records are administrative correspondence, reports, rules, a petition, and maps regarding the Edwards Aquifer, including public hearing documents and rules creating the Edwards Underground Water District. Records date from 1970 to 1991 and undated, bulk 1973 to 1988. Especially well represented in the public hearing documents and other records are the Texas cities of San Antonio and Uvalde. Topics of the public hearings include arriving at an accurate geographical definition of the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone and fair regulation of pollution and development therein. Also included are rules designed to regulate activities that could potentially cause pollution affecting the Edwards Aquifer and a petition to create the Union Hill Underground Water Management Area (UWMA) in Callahan County.
To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed 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.
Because of the possibility that portions of these records fall under Public Information Act exceptions including, but not limited to, agency memoranda and working papers (V.T.C.A., Government Code Section 552.111), an archivist must review these records before they can be accessed for research. The records may be requested for research under the provisions of the Public Information Act (V.T.C.A., Government Code, Chapter 552). The researcher may request an interview with an archivist or submit a request by mail (Texas State Library and Archives Commission, P. O. Box 12927, Austin, TX 78711), fax (512-463-5436), email (Dir_Lib@tsl.state.tx.us), or see our web page (http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/agency/customer/pia.html). Include enough description and detail about the information requested to enable the archivist to accurately identify and locate the information. If our review reveals information that may be excepted by the Public Information Act, we are obligated to seek an open records decision from the Attorney General on whether the records can be released. The Public Information Act allows the Archives ten working days after receiving a request to make this determination. The Attorney General has 45 working days to render a decision. Alternately, the Archives can inform you of the nature of the potentially excepted information and if you agree, that information can be redacted or removed and you can access the remainder of the records.
Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted and may be freely used in any way. 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.).
To obtain equipment to listen to the audiocassette, please contact the Preservation Officer.
(Identify the item), Texas Water Commission Edwards Aquifer correspondence. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 2009/036
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission on October 2, 2008.
Jessica Tucker, March 2012
These records were appraised as archival by staff of the Texas State Archives in August 2008.
Detailed Description of the Records