Records Appraisal Report:
Commission on Environmental Quality
Office of Permitting, Remediation and Registration, Water Supply Division,
Water Districts - Annexed, Abolished and Dissolved

Contents of this report
Agency Contact | Record Series Review

Internal links to series reviews
Water districts - annexed, abolished and dissolved

July 27, 2005, Laura K. Saegert, Appraisal Archivist

Agency Contact

This agency contact information was current at the time of the report but may have changed in the interim. Please call (512-463-5455) for current contact information of the agency's records manager or records liaison for these records.

Randy Nelson or Rob Cummings

Records Series Review

Series Title: Water districts - annexed, abolished and dissolved

Obsolete record series? No

Ongoing record series?
Annual accumulation: unknown

Agency holdings:
65 cubic ft. of records stored at the State Records Center

Records are water district files of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and document the creation, administration, and the dissolution, annexation or abolishment of water districts. These files do not cover active water districts. Dates covered are ca. 1958-ca. 1986. Types of records include orders, correspondence, memoranda, affidavits, hearing notices, agreements, bonds, bond reports, audits, financial statements, market demand studies, facility plans, fire plans, engineering reports, blueprints, change orders, project manuals, specifications, invitations to bid, cost summaries, inspection reports, investigative reports, maps, and list of water district officers and supervisors. Topics covered include the creation of the district, compliance or non-compliance of the district with state rules and regulations, appointment of officers, finances of the district, market studies to determine need for a water district, bond issuance, construction of facilities, inspections, and the dissolution, abolishment, or annexation of the district to another water district. Correspondents include the Texas Water Commission, the Texas Department of Water Resources, the water district officers, local officials, contractors, attorneys, and others.

Records document the administration of former water districts by the Texas Water Commission, the Texas Water Rights Commission, and the Texas Department of Water Resources - predecessors to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Agency history and structure:
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). It 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 regulation 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. And, the Water Well Drillers Act was passed in 1965 establishing the Water Well Drillers Board (House Bill 77, 59th Legislature, Regular Session) in place of the earlier advisory 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 1991, the 72nd Legislature passed Senate Bill 2, 1st Called Session in an effort to consolidate the state's regulatory programs for air, water and waste. This began a two-year process of consolidation, culminating with the creation of the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission in 1993. In accordance with Senate Bill 2, sections of the Texas Department of Health dealing with solid waste, drinking water protection, and wastewater treatment were transferred to the Texas Water Commission (TWC) by March 1, 1992. On September 1, 1992, the Texas Water Well Drillers Board and the Texas Board of Irrigators were abolished and those functions transferred to the TWC. On September 1, 1993, the Texas Air Control Board and the Texas Water Commission were abolished and those functions were consolidated to form the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission. The Texas Water Commission became the core of the TNRCC and the TWC's three full-time commissioners automatically became the commissioners of the TNRCC. In 1997 the 75th Legislature transferred the regulation of water well drillers from the TNRCC to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (Senate Bill 1955, Regular Session). And, in 1999 the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Authority was abolished and its functions transferred to the TNRCC (House Bill 1172, 76th Legislature, Regular Session). Legislation in 2001 authorized a name change for the TNRCC. Effective September 1, 2002, it became the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

The TCEQ is governed by a three-member commission, appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate for overlapping six-year terms. Members may not serve more than two terms and conflict of interest restrictions apply. These are full-time salaried positions and the governor designates the chair. The commissioners establish overall agency direction and policy and make final determinations on contested permitting and enforcement matters.

The primary goals of the TCEQ are to protect public health and safety and the environment by reducing the release of pollutants and contaminants, regulating the management and disposal of waste, and expediting the cleanup of contaminated sites. The agency also manages the state's water resources by enforcing compliance with state and federal clean air and water laws.

The agency is divided into six major offices: the Office of Administrative Services; the Office of Compliance and Enforcement; the Office of the Executive Director; the Office of Legal Services; the Office of Permitting, Remediation and Registration; and the Chief Engineer's Office.

The Office of Permitting, Remediation and Registration (OPRR) implements the federal and state laws and regulations governing all aspects of permitting for the air, water and waste programs; oversees the investigation and cleanup of hazardous pollutants released into the environment; registers and manages the reporting requirements for certain facilities; and implements the petroleum storage tank reimbursement program. It is organized into six divisions: Air Permits Division, Waste Permits Division, Water Quality Division, Water Supply Division, Remediation Division, Registration, Review, and Reporting Division.

The Water Supply Division is responsible for programs that ensure the efficient administration of surface water use, the delivery of safe and adequate drinking water, and the provision of dependable utility service at fair levels of compensation. It is also responsible for the general supervision and oversight of water districts and utilities, including the processing of petitions to create districts and applications to approve utility service areas. In addition, the agency maintains approval authority over many utility matters including the review of most district bond issues and of the rates charged by privately owned and member-owned utilities.

Arrangement: Alphabetical by water district, then by topic (supervision, bonds, audits, construction, etc.)

Access constraints: None.

Use constraints: None.

Problems: None known.

Known related records in other agencies: None known.

Previous Destructions:
No destruction requests have been filed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality or its predecessors for this particular series.

Publications based on records: None known.

Series data from agency schedule:
Title: Water districts - annexed, abolished and dissolved
Series item number: 1.1.025
Agency item number: 6502.03
Archival code: R
Retention: AC + 10

Archives Holdings:
None from this particular series are in the archives. Related holdings are:

Texas Water Commission, Minutes, 1913-1986, 7.77 cubic ft.
This accession contains minutes of the State Board of Water Engineers, the Texas Water Rights Commission, and the Texas Water Commission, dating 1913-1986. The bulk of the minutes contain applications for permits, cancellations of permits, forfeitures, certified filings, and presentations concerning water allocations. In addition, the minutes cover administrative matters handled by the commission, listed in the indices under such headings as appointments, cooperative agreements, directors (appointments, bonds, etc.), duty measurements, federal projects and contracts, fees collected, financial statements, financing master plans, gauging stations, legal services, personnel, petitions and complaints, rate hearings, rules and regulations, water authorities and districts (creation of, master plans, etc.), miscellaneous orders, etc. The minutes frequently contain the full texts of final determination of adjudication of all claims for water rights, and of commission orders.

Texas Documents Collection holdings: None known.

Gaps: None known.

Appraisal decision:
These records document the life cycle of former water districts described in this series. The files have copies of the orders creating the districts and sometimes copies of the orders ending the districts or else a memo about the abolishment, dissolution or annexation of the district. Most of the water district files will also document engineering and construction activities of the district's facilities, its financial stability, its officers, and general administration of the district by the Texas Water Commission and its successor agencies. For most water districts the files provide ample coverage of the operation of the district and permitting and supervision responsibilities by the agency. Some of the orders issued and master plans can also be found in the minutes held by the Archives. A complete set of board orders should be at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Records of hearings to determine changes in or dissolution, abolishment or annexation of the districts are at the TCEQ.

The question is whether we need to document the operation of these districts or is having the minutes of the commission that discuss the creation and dissolution, abolishment or annexation of the districts sufficient. I have talked with several staff members in the water districts/utilities section at TCEQ and those that work directly with the water district files have told me the files concerning the supervision of the district and the bond files (re: issuance of bonds) do have long term value - archival value. They said they did not see a reason to keep the files concerning construction of or improvement to facilities. Of the boxes I reviewed, all districts had supervision folders and most had bond folders. A few did not have construction related records. The supervision folders document the administration of the district and the files include correspondence, memoranda, affidavits, orders, agreements, and lists of district officers. Files of smaller districts may also include financial statements, reports, studies, and maps. Larger districts will generally have these latter files in separate folders, however these types of records are part of the state's supervision responsibilities. This series does provide a fairly complete picture of the life cycle of water districts. I am not sure all the relevant orders were copied into the minutes we hold and it is important to document the beginning and ending of these districts. I feel the TCEQ should have a complete set or orders at the agency, however that is not an archival or permanent series on the schedule so they may not retain them permanently. And, after talking with TCEQ staff members and getting their feedback, a couple of whom have been with the agency and worked with these records for many years, I am recommending we appraise this series as archival. A decision can be made at a later date as to whether we should keep all of the construction records or just the rest of the files.

Page last modified: August 31, 2011