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 becomes effective November 1, 2007.

General Site Eligibility:
  • 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 and Management System (GIMS) mapping tool. Click on the map graphic above which will take you to the GIMS website. Under the layer button in the GIMS toolbar (far right icon) click on the Environmental layer and select Municipal Settings Designation and all the City's MSD sites will show in a light red. For status information on the City's MSD sites, you can click on either of the first two links under "Information" below. The fist is a pdf citywide map of the status of all the sites, and the second is an excel spreadsheet with information regarding all the sites

MSD Documents

MSD in Review 2023

MSD in Review 2022

MSD in Review 2021


For Municipal Settings Designation Completed, contact: [email protected].

For more information concerning the application or process of an MSD in Houston, call: 832.394.9003

You can request an electronic copy of the full application by e-mail to: [email protected]

For information concerning the Brownfield Redevelopment Program: or email: [email protected]