Frequently Asked Questions for Water Use Survey

Water Use Survey

Water Use Estimates (State, Region, and County)

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

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

  • Yes, the return of a completed survey is Texas State Law required by Texas Water Code (Section 16.012(m)) and Texas Administrative Code (31 TAC ยง358.5) for any entity that has received the survey. 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 at 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.
  • 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. The second criteria noted is most often applied to small facilities in rural areas that make up a significant portion of a county's industrial water use. 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. Surveys are also required of all electric power generating plants regardless of volume.

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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 click on our board 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?

  • Water use estimates for municipal, manufacturing, and steam-electric power categories come from an annual survey of public water suppliers and major manufacturing and power entities. Response to this survey is mandatory (Section 16.012(m) of the Texas Water Code, as amended by the 78th Texas Legislature in 2003).
  • Mining water-use estimates are based on the annual water-use survey and an estimate of the water used in secondary processes for oil and gas recovery.
  • Livestock water-use estimates are derived from annual livestock population estimates produced by the Texas Agricultural Statistics Service. Estimated water use per animal unit is based on research conducted by the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station.
  • Estimates of irrigation water use (up through 2002) were based upon five-year irrigation surveys conducted in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service. Irrigation water use estimates (2003 and later) are developed through the use of various datasets including, but not limited to, available weather data, irrigated acres from the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Farm Service Agency, surface water diversions from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and local revisions from groundwater conservation districts and other local political subdivisions. More information on this process may be found on the Irrigation Water Use Estimates webpage.

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How are the water use and pumpage volumes estimated?

  • The TWDB estimates water use at the city level for cities which have population of 500 or greater and for county seats. Gross water use is collected for municipal water suppliers, subtract sales to other water suppliers, and attribute some portion of the utility's net use to particular cities. County estimates are the sum of net water use from municipal utilities and rural users in each county.

  • Water use for manufacturing is the summation of water use for manufacturing firms reporting to the TWDB. Water use for power is a combination of reports and calculations of consumed water based on individual water supply power plant configurations. Mining water use is a combination of reported water use by firm and additional estimates based on prior years' research. Irrigation is provided annually by the TWDB Conservation Division and is based on crops, acreage, climatic conditions, and observations by local agricultural representatives, and data provided by irrigation and groundwater districts. Livestock data is calculated annually from Texas Department of Agriculture livestock population reports by animal class compiled by the TWDB Conservation Division.

  • The Water Use Survey Team has created ground water pumpage estimates by aquifer since 1985, with the cooperation of TWDB staff geologists. Each municipal and industrial entity surveyed has an assigned major aquifer, so reports of ground water pumpage by municipal and industrial users can be summed. Pumpage estimated for residual county-other municipal water use, residual mining water use, irrigation, and livestock has been distributed to the thirty major aquifers according to research and professional opinion of TWDB geologists.

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What types of water use are included?

  • Municipal water use includes: City-owned, districts, water supply corporations, or private utilities supplying residential, commercial (non-goods-producing businesses), and institutional (schools, governmental operations).
  • Manufacturing is process water use reported by large manufacturing plants.
  • Steam-Electric Power is consumptive use of water by large power generation plants that sell power on the open market, generally not cogeneration plants that generate power for manufacturing or mining processes.
  • Mining water use: Include water used in the mining of oil, gas, coal, sand, gravel, and other materials.
  • Livestock water use.
  • Irrigated agriculture water use.

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