Municipal Settings Designation

MSDs prohibit the use of impaired shallow groundwater as potable water. In the City's ordinance, potable water is defined as, water that is used for irrigation, production of food or drink products intended for human consumption, drinking, showering, bathing or cooking purposes. An MSD does not remove any liability from the property owner, nor does it shift any liability to the City.


In 2003, the Texas Legislature authorized the creation of MSDs, which would designate an area in which the use of contaminated groundwater is prohibited from use as potable water. The law is administered by TCEQ. The intent of the legislation is to encourage redevelopment of vacant or abandoned properties while protecting the public health.

On August 22, 2007, City Council approved an Ordinance amending Chapter 47 of the Code of Ordinances by adding Article XIII relating to groundwater, which will provide a process for supporting or not supporting a Municipal Setting Designation (MSD) application to the State. The City's program became effective November 1, 2007.

General Site Eligibility:

The City requires a minimum of four sampling events, in addition to other lines of evidence when necessary, to determine stability for monitoring wells displaying PCL exceedences, as recommended by TCEQ in RG-366 “Monitored Natural Attenuation Demonstrations under TRRP”. Quarterly sampling events are preferred for all demonstrations of plume stability that rely on statistical analysis.

  • The plume is stable (i.e. no change) or decreasing in concentration
  • The plume is delineated to the GWGWing PCL
  • The site has been enrolled in a state or federal cleanup program
  • The site has been thoroughly investigated with sufficient data
  • The source of contamination has been removed

You can view the City's MSD sites in the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping tool. Click on Houston Water above and then click on GIS link. To the right of the page, you will find two links.  First link to view infrastructure information.  Second link to view and download data.