In December 2020, the City of Austin adopted the Onsite Water Reuse Systems Ordinance, adding Chapter 15-13 to the City of Austin Code, to regulate the collection, treatment, and use of alternative water sources for non-potable uses in multi-family and commercial buildings. 

Who Must Comply?

Any commercial or multi-family project that uses rainwater, condensate water, stormwater, graywater or foundation drain water for non-potable applications such as toilet flushing or irrigation must obtain a permit from Austin Water. See “How to Obtain Project Approval” below for details on obtaining a permit.

Which Projects are Required to Install an Onsite Water Reuse System?

New commercial and multi-family projects with cooling towers have been required to reuse condensate or use non-potable water to make up evaporative losses since September 5, 2017 (UMC §310.8 & §1126.0).

Beginning April 1, 2024 Onsite Water Reuse Systems will also be required for new commercial and multi-family development projects of 250,000 gross square feet or greater (LDC §25-9-412). These projects will have to collect and treat rainwater and air conditioner condensate for reuse in buildings for toilet/urinal flushing, laundry, irrigation, and cooling.

NEW Pilot Incentive Program

To encourage the voluntary implementation of Onsite Water Reuse Systems before the 2023 mandate, Austin Water has initiated an Onsite Water Reuse System Pilot Incentive Program, and we are currently accepting applications.  Developers seeking to voluntarily incorporate Onsite Water Reuse Systems are encouraged to submit proposals for up to $500,000 in project reimbursements. To apply, please download the program application, which contains information on program eligibility and terms, and submit it to AW_OnsiteReuse@austintexas.gov.

How to obtain project approval

Follow these simple steps to obtain approval under the new Onsite Water Reuse Systems Ordinance (approved December 2020). 

  1. Submit an Application and Water Balance Calculator to Austin Water
    Two types of Onsite Water Reuse System Applications and a Water Balance Calculator for multi-family and commercial projects are located below. Onsite Water Reuse Systems that limit use to non-spray type irrigation require system approval, but do not require an operating permit, and therefore have a separate application.  The Water Balance Calculator must be completed and submitted for both types of Onsite Water Reuse System Applications.
    OWRS Operating Permit Application or Non Spray Irrigation OWRS System Approval Application
    - Water Balance Calculator 
  2. Submit an Onsite Water Reuse Implementation Plan to Austin Water (applicable only to district-scale systems)
    The Onsite Water Reuse System Implementation Plan must be prepared in accordance with the following checklist. 
    Onsite Water Reuse System Implementation Plan Checklist.
  3. Submit an Engineering Report to Austin Water for Approval
    The Engineering Report must be prepared by a registered professional engineer. Projects that reuse an alternative water source solely for subsurface irrigation or for surface non-spray irrigation do not need to submit an Engineering Report.
  4. Obtain an Encroachment Agreement from ORES (if applicable)
    Onsite water reuse systems with infrastructure located within the public right-of-way are required to obtain an Encroachment Agreement from the City of Austin - Office of Real Estate Services (ORES). 
  5. Submit Plan Reviews to DSD and Austin Water for Approval of the Onsite Water Reuse System Construction
    In addition to Austin Water approval of the Engineering Report, approval of the Auxiliary Water Source Plan Review by Austin Water and a Commercial Plan Review by the City of Austin - Development Services Department (DSD) are required before DSD will issue a plumbing permit to construct the system.
  6. Complete Construction Inspections - In addition to commercial building inspections, onsite water reuse systems must complete a cross-connection test and related inspections.
     - Schedule a Cross Connection Test with a qualified inspector
     - Schedule an onsite water reuse system final construction inspection with Austin Water by contacting AW_OnsiteReuse@austintexas.gov
  7. Obtain a Permit to Operate from Austin Water 
    A Construction Certification letter and successful Cross Connection Test are required prior to operation. Projects that reuse an alternative water source solely for subsurface irrigation or for surface non-spray irrigation do not need to obtain a Permit to Operate.
  8. Conduct Ongoing Monitoring, Reporting, and Inspections
    Ongoing monitoring is crucial to ensure the onsite water reuse system is in proper working order. Operators report the results of the ongoing monitoring to Austin Water using the Discharge Monitoring Report form at the frequency identified in their Permit to Operate.


Additional Resources

Use these helpful resources below to help you with your system design. 


Resources for Residential OWRS

The new Onsite Water Reuse Systems Ordinance does not apply to systems installed at single-family residences. For information on permitting of these systems, please contact the Austin Water Special Services Division at 512-972-1060 option 5. For information on available rebate programs, please visit www.WaterWiseAustin.com.



For more information, contact AW_OnsiteReuse@austintexas.gov