Texas Board of Professional Engineers
Policy Advisory Opinion Regarding Water Quality Planning
August 11, 2005

 Executive Summary: Water quality planning includes measurement/assessment activities and the design and/or implementation of systems for the use of water. Many of the assessment and measurement activities including TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) studies and biological assessments are performed by qualified scientists. When engineering analysis or design is required to implement a water use plan based on these studies, then professional engineers are required to perform these implementation tasks. Specific activities including feasibility studies, siting, performance monitoring and specification and design of water treatment systems require professional engineering. Engineer involvement is necessary for the implementation of water quality measures through the construction of public works not exempted from the Texas Engineering Practice Act (Act) and in the design of engineered water quality measures for private works not exempted by the Act.

Background: This policy advisory is intended to better define when the services of a Texas licensed professional engineer are required to perform specific tasks associated with water quality planning projects. Water quality planning involves the work of engineers and other professionals, (for example, geoscientists, biologists, chemists). The technical portion of water quality planning projects can be divided into two phases, assessment/measurement and implementation. Measurement/assessment activities involve the actual sampling of water bodies and pollution sources and simulations to illustrate how the pollution sources affect the water body. Assessment includes the definition of the planning area and the analysis of pertinent studies and simulations already completed and the recommendation that further studies need to be performed. Usually, these assessment activities are performed by non-engineers. In the assessment stage of a project, recommendations are frequently made regarding water treatment options. A recommendation, in itself, is not an exclusive engineering activity. For example, a study may reveal that the concentration of a specific material exceeds a published guideline and would recommend that water treatment is necessary to remove the material. This type of non-specific recommendation is not engineering. Engineering would be involved in the design of the water treatment system and any testing or modeling required to design the engineered water treatment system would need to be supervised by a professional engineer.

Water Quality Planning Activities that Require Professional Engineers

  1. Feasibility studies regarding engineered water quality control measures, treatment technologies and treatment plants.
  2. Siting of engineered water quality management measures.
  3. Monitoring and evaluation of engineered water quality measures for assessment or adjustment of functional processes.
  4. Specification of engineered water treatment technologies.

In addition to these specific tasks, Texas licensed engineers are required to prepare the specifications, designs and perform construction monitoring of public works projects not exempted by the Act. Licensed professional engineers are required to perform the design of the listed activities for private works not exempted by the Act.