Embargoed until:

October 18, 2001   

10:00 am, EST

For more information:

Danielle Droitsch

Tennessee Clean Water Network          865-607-2138


Groups Say Stronger Clean Water Act and Funding Needed For Safety of Tennessee Families and Environment

Press Conferences Announce Time to Keep the Promise of Clean Water


October 18 -  On the 29th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, Tennessee citizens challenged the state of Tennessee and Congress to make good on the promise of clean water made by the Clean Water Act in 1972.  Today marks the beginning of the “Year of Clean Water” leading up to October 18, 2002, the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, one of the most significant environmental laws of the last century and for the future.


“Our health and protection from unsafe and polluted waters should remain one of the highest priorities of the state,” said Danielle Droitsch, Executive Director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN). There will be four press conferences [information below] across the state celebrating the kick-off leading up to October 18, 2002, the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.


The Clean Water Act of 1972 was passed when many of our nation’s major rivers were virtual sewers and we were losing wetlands at an unprecedented rate. The Cuyahoga River was so polluted that it burst into flames and the Potomac River was considered “a severe threat to anyone who comes in contact with it.” Thanks to the Clean Water Act, things are better today.


“This nation set a goal of eliminating all discharges to navigable waters by 1985.  Obviously we have not reached that goal,” said Will Callaway, Executive Director of Tennessee Environmental Council (TEC).  “We want to encourage people across the state to take responsibility for cleaning up their own streams and to insist that pollution discharges become a thing of the past.”


Today, nearly 30 years after the passage of this important law, the Clean Water Act’s promise of clean water for everyone has yet to be kept.  While many of the country’s most obvious pollution problems have been addressed, the Clean Water Act has yet to be fully implemented and enforced. 


"When the Clean Water Act was passed, it was as if we'd promised each other to stop poisoning our own water supplies, destroying our natural streams and wetlands, and exterminating aquatic species faster than we could identify them,” said David Sligh, Southeast Director of American Rivers, “We've taken some important steps to try to live up to our promises but we have far to go.  I hope the next year brings a new commitment to truly protect and restore our waters for all uses, even when the solutions aren't the fastest or cheapest we can find."


In its last state water quality report, Tennessee reported that 31 percent (7540 miles) of its monitored rivers did not meet water quality standards.  In addition, 22 percent of Tennessee’s lakes (118,081 acres) did not meet water quality standards.  According to the state, a staggering 59 percent of Tennessee’s rivers are not monitored for water quality standards.  As a result, the public cannot be informed as to the safety of these waters.  On a more positive note, most of Tennessee lakes are monitored.


In addition, a recent report found that 53 percent of Tennessee’s major sewage treatment and industrial plants violated the law during the 15-month study period.  Other studies show that water polluters are rarely fined for their violations. When polluters are fined, penalties are often too low to discourage future pollution.  As a former employee of TDEC, I know there is a lot more that can be done to protect our waters, involve interested citizens, and fine polluters enough to help fund the programs without an income tax and keep our parks open and free,” said Barry Sulkin, Director, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility in Tennessee and former Chief of Enforcement for TN Water Pollution Control.


The groups challenged Congress and the Bush Administration to make good on the promise of clean water by taking the following steps before the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act on October 18, 2002.  Specifically they requested that Congress and the Bush administration:


Protect our children and our neighborhoods from raw sewage discharges that all too frequently flow into our streets, neighborhoods, and playgrounds.
Implement, not weaken, our national watershed cleanup program for our most polluted waters.
Provide greater protection for our nation’s wetlands by amending the Clean Water Act to include protection for isolated waters, and by passing legislation to close the so-called “Tulloch” loophole that allows wetlands to be destroyed and streams degraded without permits or controls.
Pass enforcement legislation that ensures polluters are held accountable for violating the law.


The groups also called on the Tennessee legislature to ensure that there is adequate funding of those programs responsible for the protection of our state waters and enforcement of Clean Water Act.  According to the Tennessee Clean Water Network, increased funding is needed not only for programs but also for employee salaries that are significantly lower as compared with other southern states.  "If we expect safe waters, then we need to ensure our state programs are adequately staffed and funded. Right now, we have too many underpaid, overworked, and demoralized personnel who are not even provided with sufficient resources to implement basic watershed protection activities,” said Droitsch.



Nashville:  2:00 p.m. CST

Riverfront Park, Court of Flags area.  Location is in the park near the intersection of Broadway and First Avenue.  Local contact: Will Callaway 615-248-6500


Chattanooga:  10:00 a.m. EST

Walnut Bridge in downtown Chattanooga. 

Local contact:  Sandy Kurtz 423.892.5237 (home) or  423.488.5668 (cell)

Knoxville:  2:00 p.m. EST

Third Creek Greenway Parking Lot off Neyland Drive next to the UT Agricultural Experiment Station.  Local contact:  Marcy Reed 865.691.8807

Crossville: Meet at 2:30 CST at the Believers Fellowship Church on Porcelain Stone Drive in Crossville. Porcelain Stone Drive is west off Main St. (Route 127) at the first signal south of Route 40.  The Church is the first building on the right. Meet in parking lot before driving a short distance to view the condition of streams as construction continues in the Crossroads Business Park.


About TCWN / Join TCWN / Request a Newsletter / Newsletter Archives / TCWN Library / Calendar / Join Our Email List
How You can Help / Sign Our Guestbook

Tennessee Clean Water Network
P.O. Box 1521
Knoxville, TN 37901
[email protected]