What is a Municipal Setting Designation?

A Municipal Setting Designation (MSD) is an official state designation given to property within a municipality or its extraterritorial jurisdiction that certifies that designated groundwater at the property is not used as potable (drinking) water, and is prohibited from future use as potable water because that groundwater is contaminated in excess of the applicable potable-water protective concentration level. An MSD can alter the cleanup criteria required by the State for the subject property.

An MSD may be approved by the executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) pursuant to Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 361, Subchapter W.  The law was created in 2003 by the 78th State of Texas Legislature under House Bill 3152. 

The TCEQ is the State agency responsible for protection of human health and the environment and was directed by the legislature to process and review MSD proposals. TCEQ reviews MSD proposals to verify compliance with applicable laws and regulations and to evaluate potential risk on current and future regional groundwater resource needs and obligations of users.

City staff shall not be tasked with conducting an environmental risk assessment of the application. The State may not approve an MSD if the city council of the municipality in which it is located supports the application by resolution and prohibits the potable use of groundwater in the MSD by ordinance.

In order to facilitate the local approval process, and to ensure public participation in that process, the City of Grand Prairie enacted a MSD procedural ordinance in January 2006. It is not required that an application be filed with the TCEQ prior to applying to the City for approval.

Who is eligible to apply?

The Texas municipal setting designation law states that a person, including a local government, may submit a request to the executive director of the TCEQ for a MSD for property if the property is within the corporate limits or extraterritorial jurisdiction of a municipality authorized by statute that has a population of at least 20,000.

Additionally, a public drinking water supply system must exist that satisfies the requirements of Chapter 341 of the Texas Health and Safety Code and that supplies or is capable of supplying drinking water to the property for which designation is sought and property within one-half mile of that property.

How do I apply to the City for approval?

One hard copy and one electronic copy of an application form with attachments must be submitted to the Director of the Environmental Services Department.

The application must be certified and signed by an authorized representative of the applicant. This means that if the applicant is a corporation, the president, secretary, treasurer, or a vice-president of the corporation in charge of a principal business function, or any other person who performs similar policy or decision-making functions for the corporation is the authorized signatory. If the applicant is a partnership or sole proprietorship, a general partner or proprietor, respectively, is the authorized signatory. If the applicant is a local government, the chief executive officer or his authorized designee is the authorized signatory.

Applications must be mailed or delivered in person (either by applicant or courier). Faxed applications are not permitted.

To submit an application, hand deliver or address it to the following address:

Environmental Services Department
City of Grand Prairie
300 W. Main St., 2nd Floor
Grand Prairie, Texas 75050

View Environmental Quality Division's requirements for obtaining MSD resolutions (PDF).

What happens after I submit my application?

Upon receiving the application, the Environmental Services Director will distribute copies of the application to various departments for staff review. Staff will review the application noting any discrepancies in the application, and advising of any City interests that may potentially be impacted by the proposed MSD.

After the staff review process is complete, the Director will make a determination as to whether the application is complete.  If it is complete, the Director will schedule a public meeting. 

If the Director determines that the application is incomplete, he will return the application to the application, noting the deficiencies in writing. The applicant will have 30 days from the date of the deficiency letter to correct the deficiencies and resubmit the application. If the applicant fails to submit a corrected application within the allotted time, the application shall be deemed to be withdrawn and the application fee forfeited.

After the public hearing, the Director will schedule a public hearing.

Do I need to be at the public hearing and the public meeting?

Yes. The purpose of a public meeting is for the applicant to provide information to the affected community about municipal setting designations and the application, and to obtain input on the application prior to a formal hearing before the City Council. The applicant or applicant’s representative must appear at the public meeting.

If the applicant fails to appear at the public meeting either in person or by representative, the application shall be deemed withdrawn and the application fee forfeited.

The public hearing will be conducted during a City Council meeting. The applicant or applicant’s representative must appear at the public hearing and present the request for a municipal setting designation approval. If the applicant fails to appear at the hearing either in person or by representative, the application shall be deemed withdrawn and the application fee forfeited.

How is an application approved?

In order to approve an application, the City Council must adopt an ordinance prohibiting the potable use of designated groundwater from beneath the property. 

The ordinance will become effective upon pre-certification from the TCEQ. 

Council may include other reasonable restrictions on the use of groundwater in the municipal setting designation. 

A certified copy of the ordinance will be provided to the applicant when it becomes available.