Office of House Bill AnalysisC.S.H.B. 2901
By: Counts
Natural Resources
Committee Report (Substituted)


The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) adopted a new
set of rules regarding the Edwards Aquifer on September 23, 1998.  The
effective date for these rules is June 1, 1999.  The rules are divided into
two parts: Subchapter A concerns the Edwards Aquifer in Medina, Bexar,
Comal, Kinney, Uvalde, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties and applies to
all regulated developments in the "recharge zone"; Subchapter B applies to
the "contributing zone" in these same counties.  The recharge zone has been
regulated since the mid-1980s; therefore, the new rules amend existing
regulations.  However, the contributing zone had not been regulated until
these rules were adopted in September. Due to concerns from the real estate
industry, TNRCC specifically set June 1, 1999, as the effective date for
the new rules in order to allow for legislative input.  According to the
real estate industry, several outstanding issues remain regarding the
rules, including the possible lack of scientific data for the new
requirements, duplication of the federal National Pollutant Discharge
Elimination System program and the negative impact of the rules on housing

C.S.H.B. 2901 creates an interim select committee comprised of
representatives from the regulated counties.  Members include engineers,
developers, city officials, builders, and TNRCC staff.  This bill gives the
committee specific direction for their study of the rules. The committee is
responsible for issuing a report to the governor, lieutenant governor,
speaker, and TNRCC.  A moratorium on enforcement of the rules is in effect
until the report of the committee is complete.  


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking
authority is expressly delegated to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation
Commission in SECTION 1 (Section 26.0462, Water Code) of this bill. 

SECTION 1.  Amends Subchapter B, Chapter 26, Water Code, by adding Sections
26.0462 and 26.0463, as follows: 

Defines "contributing zone," "Edwards Aquifer," "Edwards Aquifer region,"
"recharge zone," and "transition zone."  Requires the Texas Natural
Resource Conservation Commission (commission) to adopt and enforce rules
regarding construction-related activity on the recharge zone that has the
potential for polluting the Edwards Aquifer and hydrologically connected
surface streams in order to protect existing and potential uses of
groundwater and maintain state water quality standards, regarding certain
construction, clearing, excavation, installation, or other activities that
may contaminate the Edwards Aquifer and hydrologically connected surface
streams.  Provides that the commission is not required to adopt rules
regarding certain other activities.  Prohibits the commission from
enforcing or acting on a rule, order, interpretation, decision, or opinion
until after January 1, 2000, regarding an activity that was adopted,
issued, or made by the commission after January 1, 1998.  

"Edwards Aquifer region."  Requires the commission to convene a select
committee  on the Edwards Aquifer region to study the need for and
potential effectiveness, efficiency, and economic effects of rules adopted
by the commission that have not taken effect as of January 1, 1999, that
apply to activities subject to commission regulation under Section 26.0462.
Sets forth the makeup of the committee.  Requires the entities entitled to
make appointments to the committee to make the appointments within 30 days
of the effective date of this Act.  Requires the committee to hold its
first meeting not later than the 60th date after this section takes effect.
Requires the members of the committee to elect a presiding officer at the
first meeting of the committee.  Authorizes the committee to seek the input
of the governor, lieutenant governor, or speaker of the house of
representatives at any time. Provides that a member of the committee is not
entitled to compensation or to reimbursement for expenses.   Requires the
committee to meet at least once each month and at the call of the presiding
officer.   Requires the committee to report the conclusions of the study
made under this section by December 31, 1999, to the governor, the
lieutenant governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, and the
commission.  Provides that Section 26.0463 expires January 1, 2000.  

SECTION 2.  Emergency clause.
  Effective date: upon passage.


In SECTION 1, the substitute differs from the original by redesignating the
contents of SECTIONS 1-6 of the original, as well as a new portion which
defines terms, and gives rulemaking authority to the Texas Natural Resource
Conservation Commission, as new sections to be added to Chapter 26 of the
Water Code.   

The substitute differs from the original in SECTION 1 by requiring the
commission, rather than the governor, to convene the committee. 

The substitute differs from the original in SECTION 1 by requiring the
committee appointments to be made by certain entities, rather than by the

The substitute provides that proposed Section 26.0463, Water Code, expires
and the committee it creates is abolished, January 1, 2000.  The original
bill provided that the Act expired May 31, 2000. 

The substitute differs from the original by conforming to Legislative
Council format. 

SECTION 7 (emergency clause) of the original is redesignated as SECTION 2
of the substitute.