On February 26, 2010 the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Pharmaceutical Advisory Group met to hear presentations, go over stakeholder questionnaires and break out into discussion groups.

Tim Oden with the U.S. Geological (USGS) Survey Texas Water Science Center gave the first presentation which was a brief overview of the USGS activities regarding emerging water contaminates. He stated there is only one Texas project; it is located in the Dallas area and being conducted by Mick Baldys. Initially, water samples will be collected from landfills.  

TCEQ officials also gave a presentation on regulations relating to pharmaceutical disposal and the various state and federal regulations relating to proper disposal.

TCEQ officials are compiling a questionnaire to send to 12 stakeholder groups. The groups identified are: public health care providers, veterinary care providers, pharmacies/pharmacists, waste disposal operations, pharmaceutical manufactures, ranchers and farmers, end user/consumer, water and waste water utilities, local governments, in home care providers, law enforcement, and research institutions. TCEQ has received the questionnaire back from reviewers and will address comments raised before sending out for a second review. A final survey may be ready in a few weeks, but TCEQ officials stressed the critical need is to ensure the measuring instrument returns insightful and valuable information.

Stakeholders during the meeting pointed out several concerns with the current questionnaire as proposed including confidentiality and security among other things. TCEQ officials responded they understand these concerns and are trying to come up with possible mechanisms to help address them.

It was also pointed out that no comprehensive studies on emerging contaminants in Texas’ water have been completed. 

During the group discussion many pointed out the need for education on the issue and awareness of policies/guidance/regulations. Stakeholders also indicated a desire to have lawmakers present at some of the meeting as well.

During the 81st (R) SB 1757 passed which set forth that the TCEQ shall study and make recommendations regarding the methods to be used by consumers, health care providers, and others for disposing of unused pharmaceuticals so that they do not enter a wastewater system. The report is due to the legislature by December 1, 2010.

The meetings, agendas and handouts can be found by visiting: http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/permitting/water_supply/pdw/pdagroup

The next meeting will be March 24, 2010.