Frequently Asked Questions

for Water Use Survey and Water Service Boundary Viewer

Is the Water Use Survey required and when is it due?

  • Yes, it is required by Texas State Law (Section 16.012(m) of the Texas Water Code and Texas Administrative Code 31 TAC §358.5) to complete the survey for any entity that has received it. The completed survey is due 60 days after receipt. Letters notifying recipients are mailed in late December and the online survey is available by the first business day in January, so the due date is set as the first business day in March.

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What are the criteria for determining who receives a survey?

There are two types of surveys available each year: Municipal and Industrial. Annually, the TWDB surveys approximately 7,000 water systems and industrial facilities in the state. This number represents roughly 4,500 municipal and 2,500 industrial water use surveys.

  • Municipal Water Use Surveys are required of all active public water systems that are a community water system type as determined by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). These systems can be found on the TCEQ Texas Drinking Water Watch (DWW). Other water systems and commercial/institutional-type facilities that may not be on the DWW (often wholesale-only systems) may also be surveyed, particularly if groundwater is pumped or a significant volume of water is used.
  • Industrial Water Use Surveys are required by manufacturing and mining water users that annually use more than 10 million gallons of water, or use a significant volume of water for the industrial sector for a particular area of the state (i.e. small facilities in rural areas that make up a significant portion of a county's industrial water use). Steam-electric power generating plants are also surveyed regardless of volume. Because the Water Use Survey Program has a long history, some water systems or industrial facilities may have been missed or not surveyed in the past. However, staff attempts to include all water systems or industrial facilities that meet the above criteria.

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If a system/facility already reports water withdrawals to the other governmental entities (such as the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality), local groundwater conservation districts, subsidence districts or water wholesalers, then why is it necessary to fill out the annual Water Use Survey?

The Water Use Survey is intended to collect a comprehensive view of groundwater and surface water use across the state for water supply planning. While the volumes reported to other entities may be identical to what is reported in the water use survey, the local reporting provides only a partial picture of water use geographically and by source. Resources do not currently exist to coordinate the collection of water data between all agencies, districts, and authorities involved.

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Is this the same as the TWDB's required Water Conservation Plan Annual Report or the Water Loss Audit?

No, the Water Use Survey is separate from the Water Conservation Plan Annual Report and the Water Loss Audit, although all are administered by the TWDB and a number of questions are the same or are very similar. Though some water systems may be required to fill out the Survey, Report, and Audit in a given year, the criteria for all three are different. Some systems may fill out only one, two, or all three of the forms. The online applications were developed to streamline your data entry and reporting and to improve data collection and analysis. When the Water Use Survey data is entered and submitted online, certain common fields auto-populate into the Water Loss Audit and the Water Conservation Annual Report.

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Are all survey questions required or are some optional?

The survey requires that all questions be answered to the best of the system's or facility's capabilities. If questions do not apply, or are unknown due to a system's billing limitations, please make note of this in the comment section.

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What do we need to do if our survey is returned as incomplete?

Surveys are considered administratively incomplete if questions are left blank with no notation indicating that the question does not apply or cannot be answered. Until the survey is submitted with the missing information, the survey is not considered complete for the purposes of TWDB financial assistance and water-right application requirements. Please contact Survey staff if there are questions regarding missing information.

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How do I determine which aquifer my water well pulls from?

Please reference the Map of Major Aquifers. If further assistance is needed, please contact Water Use Survey Hotline phone number at (512) 463-7952.

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How much is an Acre-Foot?

An acre foot equals 325,851 gallons which is an amount of water sufficient to cover one acre with one foot of water.

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Where does the TWDB get this data and how are the water use and pumpage volumes calculated?

To quantify the annual water use estimates, the TWDB compiles information received from water use survey responses and analyzes secondary information sources for non-surveyed water use categories (irrigation, livestock, oil and gas mining, and rural domestic purposes). Annual water use estimates are reported for municipal, manufacturing, mining, livestock, and irrigation by water source and geographic location.

  • Irrigation: Annual water use estimates are developed by applying a calculated evapotranspiration-based "crop water need" estimate to reported irrigated acreage from the Farm Service Agency. These estimates are then adjusted based on surface water release data from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and comments from groundwater conservation districts, irrigation districts, and river authorities. Estimates are available at planning region, county, basin, and aquifer. Irrigation water use estimates (prior to 2003) were based upon five-year irrigation surveys conducted in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service. More information on this process may be found on the Irrigation Water Use Estimates webpage.
  • Livestock: Water use estimates are calculated by applying a water use coefficient for each livestock category to county level inventory estimates from the Texas Agricultural Statistics Service.
  • Manufacturing: Water use estimates are developed through the TWDB’s annual Water Use Survey.
  • Mining: Water use estimates are developed through the TWDB’s annual Water Use Survey and oil and gas wells and water use data from FracFocus.
  • Steam-Electric Power: Water use estimates are developed through the TWDB’s annual Water Use Survey.
  • Municipal: Water use estimates are developed developed through the TWDB’s annual Water Use Survey of public water systems (the volume of water taken into the water system, minus water sales to other water systems and large industrial facilities). Municipal use includes also domestic rural use that are calculated by applying a statewide average gallon per person daily to estimated rural population who are relying on private wells not served by any public water systems.

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How is the Gallons per Capita Daily (GPCD) calculated?

  • Net Use allocated to the Water User Group (WUG) in gallons, divided by a Population Estimate, divided by 365 days. Net Use is defined as the volume of water taken into the water system, minus water sales to other water systems and large industrial facilities. For specific information regarding the calculation of GPCD, please contact the Water Use Survey Team by telephone at (512) 463-7952.

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If a utility is listed with a high GPCD, does that mean that they use too much water?

  • TWDB estimates are for total municipal water use, defined by the TWDB as water produced by utilities for use not only in homes, but also in commercial and institiutional establishments. This includes retail, lodging, eating and drinking places, and various types of services: professional, legal, medical, financial, educational, in addition to government, and specialties such as regional air transportation centers and professional and college sports venues. Larger cities with a greater concentration of employment in such services and which provide such services to more than a local demand base will have a higher water use per permanent resident. This does not mean that those residents are wasteful in their personal use of water.
  • Other factors that affect per capita use may include:
    • Variations in regional climates,
    • Population and building density,
    • Regional economic conditions,
    • Quality of water supplies in a given region,
    • Extent and effectiveness of local water conservation programs, and
    • Rates of unaccounted for water in a given distribution system (e.g. leaks from aging distribution infrastructure).

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Why was the Viewer developed?

The Viewer mapping application was developed by the TWDB to facilitate the collection of digital maps for retail water service areas of all community PWSs in the state of Texas. There is currently no complete map of the 4,000+ PWS in the state, and the collection of this essential information is not required by the state. Without this resource, it can be challenging to answer basic questions about public water supply. This map can aid in answering questions such as, which PWS supplies water to a specific address or which populations are served by a PWS.

Through this mapping tool and cooperation from authorized PWS contacts, they can update and verify the service area boundaries for their water systems throughout the state. This cooperation will make it possible to develop a high-resolution digital map of the most up-to-date PWS service area boundaries.

The Viewer application was funded through a grant from the U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) Water Availability and Use Science Program under Cooperative Agreement No. G17AC00016

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How is TWDB intending to use these maps? Will they be used for the regional water planning process?

The primary purposes of this application are:

  1. To collect accurate retail water service boundaries to better estimate and project population for utilities for the regional water planning process. This boundary viewer will also help in estimating rural population not served by any PWS (and solely relying on private wells).
  2. To develop a GIS database and reporting tool to improve the delivery of water data and PWS information collected by the State to the public as part of the Texas Water Use Data Workplan funded by the USGS, which recommended priorities for the state’s water use data improvement.
  3. The TWDB will be continually working to update, enhance, and associate relevant public water system information to the geographic boundaries.

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Where does the draft boundary data come from?

The boundaries that preceded the Viewer were developed through a research grant for the TWDB in 2009. This layer was created using a conglomerate of data sources, including governmental and self-reported boundaries. The Viewer application provides authorized water system personnel a starting point to verify or update boundaries for their retail water service areas. The last update date represents when the last time the boundary was submitted by the water system or reviewed by state representatives through the Viewer.

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Who is responsible for developing and maintaining this tool?

The Water Supply Planning Division at the TWDB is responsible for collecting and maintaining the boundary data in the Viewer application.

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How often will boundaries be updated?

Public water systems will be asked to update boundaries annually in partnership with TWDB’s annual Water Use Survey program. The application will be open from January through July every year with the survey cycle. During that time, any boundary changes made by authorized PWS personnel will be updated to the application for the public to view after it is reviewed by TWDB staff for known inaccuracies. Once the boundary editing period is closed, no changes will be made until the following year. Each system’s boundary will display the last updated (or PWS verified) date.

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Why are there missing boundaries?

The Viewer application does not initially have draft boundaries for all PWS within the state. While the best effort was made to include a boundary for every system, some did not have enough information available to develop an initial boundary for each PWS personnel to review. An authorized PWS personnel will be contacted to add a boundary during the editing period (January-July).

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Why do some water system boundaries appear to overlap?

While service areas should never overlap (i.e. only one utility can be serving each connection) some boundaries initially developed do overlap, even though an effort has been made to remove any user errors in overlapped boundaries. Authorized PWS personnel will have an opportunity to review and verify any overlapped boundary areas through this application.

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What does water service boundary mean?

For the purpose of this application the definition of a water service boundary is a boundary that includes all areas where the retail customers are currently served by the PWS, including residential, commercial, institutional and industrial customers with retail connections with your system. Please note that the current service boundary might cover smaller areas than your CCN boundary. Please see the questions below for further explanation on water service boundary definition:

  • How should users handle projected service areas they plan to serve in the future?
    Areas that your system does not currently serve at the time of verifying or editing your service boundary through the application should not be included (those areas can be included in the next years’ boundaries once the system starts providing retail water service).
  • Should we include any of our wholesale customers?
    No. The intention of this application is to collect retail water service boundaries. For any public water systems that your PWS provides water on a wholesale basis, they will be asked to update their own retail water service boundary individually.
  • Should we include areas where we currently provide wastewater service or hold a wastewater CCN for?
    No. For the current application we are only concerned with retail drinking water customers not wastewater customers. Only retail water service areas should be included.
  • Should we include any of our wholesale customers that could become retail in the future?
    No, not until the wholesale water system customers are annexed or acquired by your water system and officially become retail water customers of your system.
  • Should we include any of our emergency backup customers?

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Why is my water system boundary incorrect?

While every effort is made to provide users with the accurate draft boundaries for editing, it is not always possible to do so. Therefore, you are asked to review and make necessary changes to the boundaries. Boundaries should be reviewed, edited, or resubmitted annually to reflect any change or no changes that have occurred.

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Is the information I am providing a security concern?

The information you are providing to the Viewer is not a security concern. You are only reporting the geographical area that your water system serves customers. We are not collecting information on transmission, storage facilities, or any other sensitive geographical information.

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My boundary is correct, do I need to do anything?

If the boundary on file is already correct, you will still need to submit the current boundary as is. This will allow the data to be represented as ‘reviewed by water system’ allowing the public, staff, and other state agencies to know this boundary has been verified by an authorized personnel of that public water system. Each boundary that is ‘reviewed by water system’ will also have the year it was last verified by the system.

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Who can register to edit boundaries? And what is the registration process?

To be able to edit a service area boundary for your water system, you must first be a registered and authorized user associated with the water system through the online Water Use Survey. The direct link to the Viewer application is listed on the first page of the online water survey once you log in through the TWDB Application Program Management (APM) system. For more information on how to register for the online water use survey, visit: Online Water Use Survey webpage.

Once you are registered, we recommend you review the User Guide for getting started. This guide will explain the tools of the application, how to edit or draw a boundary and how to upload a shapefile. Besides reviewing the User Guide, maps or other relevant geographical information can aid in editing and drawing the boundaries.

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There is not a boundary for my PWS to be verified in the application. What do I do?

If there is not a boundary for your PWS, the list of boundaries will display ‘no polygon’ in the status field. For those boundaries, once a PWS is selected, the viewer will zoom to the principal county served as recorded by the TCEQ. From there you will be able to zoom to your service area and upload a shapefile of your boundary or add your boundary by drawing it on the map.

For more information about how to create a new boundary for your water system please see the User Guide for detailed instructions.

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Can I submit my boundary if it has an overlap warning?

If you are submitting a boundary with any overlaps, please include a comment explaining the nature of the overlap to aid in TWDB review. It is the goal of the Viewer to eliminate overlaps that are incorrect, and to aid in that effort, an overlap tool will locate and draw your attention to overlaps in boundaries.

Please see the User Guide for further information on the overlap tools and tips to remove overlaps.

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Didn't answer your question?

  • For water use survey and estimates, please contact the Water Use Survey Team by email or phone at (512)-463-7952.
  • For Texas Water Service Boundary Viewer (TWSBV), please contact TWSBV Administrator by email or phone at (512) 463-9637.