Pollution Prevention Litigation

TCWN litigates to protect water quality

father and daughter on water
Photo by Jen Gallardo. Used with permission. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).


Water quality is important to families who recreate on streams and individuals who depend on it for livelihood. TCWN uses administrative forums and courts to protect water quality. 

Explore our litigation program areas displayed below. 

Our staff attorney is Shelby Ward


Select active cases

Columbia Sewage Treatment Plant Permit Appeal 

(Nutrient pollution reduction)

Key Places: Columbia, Tennessee and the Duck River

Summary: On September 30, 2016, TCWN appealed the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the Columbia Sewage Treatment Plant. TCWN alleges that the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) failed to perform a reasonable potential analysis and failed to set a water quality based effluent limit for phosphorus. The facility discharges into the Duck River.


TCWN v. Elite Properties et al.

(Wetland protection)

Key Place: Washington County, Tennessee and the Little Limestone Creek Watershed

Case ID: 2:16-cv-369

Summary: TCWN filed suit in the Eastern District of Tennessee federal court against owners and permittees of a land parcel in Washington county. TCWN alleges that the owners and permittees filled a stream that feeds into a tributary of Little Limestone Creek, damaged a wetland, and violated the Clean Water Act in several other ways. 


MS4 Phase II Permit Appeal

(Stormwater management advocacy)

Key Place: Tennessee statewide

Case ID: WPC16-0106

Summary: On October 28, 2016, TCWN, together with the Tennessee Chapter of the the Sierra Club, Obed Watershed Community Association, and the Tennessee Environmental Council, challenged the statewide permit for stormwater discharges from small municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4). We allege that the permit lacks adequate provisions for stormwater management, violates the Clean Water Act, and public participation. 

Clients: Obed Watershed Community Association, Tennessee Chapter of the the Sierra Club, Tennessee Environmental Council


TCWN et al. v. Tennessee Department of Transportation 

(Wetland protection)

Key Place: Grainger County, Tennessee

Case ID: 3:14-cv-589

Summary: TCWN and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility pursued legal action against the Tennessee Department of Transportation for failing to complete wetland mitigation at a site in Grainger, Tennessee. 

Co-counsel: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility



(Coal impact reduction advocacy)

Key Place: Gallatin, Tennessee and the Cumberland River

Case ID: No. 3:15-cv-00424  

Summary: In April 2015, TCWN and the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association sued the Tennessee Valley Authority for alleged discharges of toxic metals and other pollutants into the Cumberland River from the Gallatin coal-fired electric generation facility near Gallatin, Tennessee. 

Co-counsel: Southern Environmental Law Center and Davis & Whitlock