Municipal Setting Designations (MSDs)
What are MSDs?
Texas Health and Safety Code §§361.801-361.808 established MSDs. The law is administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and is used in conjunction with several remediation programs.
In Fort Worth, an MSD is established when City Council adopts a resolution and an ordinance to prohibit the potable use of the identified shallow, perched groundwater. An MSD only eliminates the requirement to assess and remediate the groundwater consumption exposure pathway. All other exposure pathways, including inhalation, contact, and impact to ecological receptors, must still be addressed. The state cannot approve an MSD certification unless the city council of the municipality in which the affected land is located has passed an ordinance or restrictive covenant prohibiting the potable use of the identified groundwater.
The groundwater contamination of concern in MSD situations is typically shallow, perched groundwater with a depth of less than 30 feet. It is separated from another underlying body of groundwater by a confining layer (often clay or rock) and does not threaten deeper aquifers. In Fort Worth, and in many other parts of the state, this shallow groundwater is generally of such low volume and poor quality, that it will never be used as a drinking water source. Frequently complicating this issue are areas of historical contamination from multiple sources such as gas stations, dry cleaners, manufacturing facilities, and auto repair shops.
Due to the costs and time involved, the requirement that this low quality/low volume groundwater be cleaned to drinking water standards was an impediment to brownfields redevelopment. Because no one was drinking, or was ever going to drink this water, the cleanup requirement made no sense from an environmental, human health, or economic standpoint. Developers walked away from projects when they realized that the costs involved in remediating the groundwater to drinking water quality was beyond their means.
Fort Worth’s Program
The Fort Worth ordinance requires an application for MSD certification and a two-part public participation process:
- Review the requirements of Article IV, Divisions 1 and 2 of the city’s Environmental Protection and Compliance Code (12.5) and the Application Process.
- Schedule a pre-application meeting with City of Fort Worth staff.
- Complete the MSD Application Form.
- Complete a MSD Access letter (needed when applicant is not the property owner) if required.
- Submit a completed MSD Application Form accompanied by the required $2,000 fee.
- Ensure availability for the required Public Meeting and Public Hearing. The public meeting is required and is where the applicant provides information to the affected community about their application, and to obtain community input on the application prior to a formal hearing before the City Council. Following this meeting, a public hearing will be held as part of a regular City Council meeting where application information is provided and the community has the opportunity to comment.
For more information regarding MSD certification or to obtain the status of an MSD certification, visit the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
For more information on municipal setting designations in Fort Worth, contact:Clarence Reed, Program Manager
Transportation & Public Works/Environmental Management
City of Fort Worth
1000 Throckmorton St.
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
View current MSD Sites.