In Texas, local governments are empowered to take action on the behalf of those they serve. When drought conditions exist, a burn ban can be put in place by a county judge or county commissioners court prohibiting or restricting outdoor burning for public safety. There are several reasons for a burn ban, however in Fort Bend County the most common is when significant fire danger exists due to drought or heat.
Information about burn bans, including the current burn ban status can be found on the Fort Bend County Fire Marshal’s webpage. Information about burn bans in the state of Texas can be found on the Texas A&M Forest Service website.
Outdoor burning, in general, is illegal in the Houston-Galveston Region because it contributes to air pollution. There are some exceptions in which burning is necessary and the TCEQ Outdoor Burning Rule has been designed to protect the environment and promote public health and safety. Conditions in which exceptions are met depend on county population and ozone attainment status, as described below.
Note: If you live in incorporated Fort Bend county, check local ordinances before burning.
How to Report Someone Illegally Burning Outdoors
- Call the TCEQ Region 12 Office at 713-767-3714 or your local air pollution control office.
- Call the TCEQ Environmental Complaint Hotline 1-888-777-3186.
- Submit an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Submit a complaint via the online form on the agency website: https://www.tceq.texas.gov/assets/public/compliance/monops/complaints/complaints.html
Why is the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality involved?
Fort Bend County is an “Ozone Non-Attainment” county, which means we are part of the urban counties in the Houston-Galveston Area Council which do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone. This is due largely to air pollution from industrial processes and motor-vehicle traffic, although there are many causes of ozone. On hot days you may see “Ozone Action Day” warnings go out due to the dangerous levels of ozone build-up in our atmosphere. Because of this, even without a burn ban, we are restricted the types of outdoor burning we can do in unincorporated Fort Bend County. A copy of the Outdoor Burning Rule, Title 30, Texas Administrative Code, Sections 111.201–221, can be obtained from the TCEQ at 512-239-0028, or online at www.tceq.state.tx.us/rules
The information below is from the TCEQ and H-GAC:
What can I burn in unincorporated Fort Bend County?
You may burn domestic waste if collection is not provided or authorized by the local government. Domestic wastes include waste that normally results from the function of life within a residence and include: kitchen garbage, untreated lumber, cardboard boxes, packaging (including plastics, rubber), clothing, grass, leaves, and branch trimmings. Businesses may not burn domestic waste.
On-site burning of trees, brush, grass, leaves branch trimmings and other plant growth by the property owner or authorized agent is allowed if there is no practical alternative Fort Bend County is an “ozone non-attainment county” and will generally require a practical alternative. Only TCEQ may determine if a practical alternative exists. If there is no practical alternative then the material must be generated from the property on which the burning occurs, generated as a result of right-of-way maintenance or land clearing operations or maintenance along water canals.
Crop Residue Burning
Burning of crop residue for agricultural management purposes is allowed when no practical alternative exists. • Burning is subject to general requirements for allowable outdoor burning. • Structures containing sensitive receptors, humans and livestock must not be negatively impacted by the burn. • Notification to TCEQ is recommended, but not required.
YOU MUST STILL COMPLY
If you qualify for an exception and meet the general requirements for allowable outdoor burning, you are still subject to nuisance conditions under the Texas Administrative Code and the Texas Health and Safety Code. Punishments are created under the Texas Water Code. The Texas Health and Safety Code provides TCEQ with the authority to authorize outdoor burning of waste. Fire marshals and chiefs do not have this authority.