Tennessee Clean Water Network © 2019

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Biodiversity protected through litigation

The Clean Water Act has an ambitious purpose. It exists to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the water. Protecting biological communities is a part of Clean Water Act and state water law enforcement. Further, the federal Endangered Species Act seeks to protect rare biota. 

Clean Water Act - Designated Uses

Tennessee Water Quality Control Act - Criteria for Water Uses

Under the Clean Water Act,  a "designated use" is a purpose for which a water body is set to be used, whether or not conditions the waterbody currently supports that use. In Tennessee, "Fish and Aquatic Life" and "Livestock Watering and Wildlife" as designated uses that directly involve biodiversity. When TCWN enforces permits for facilitieies that discharge effluent into water bodies with biodiversity oriented designated uses, TCWN supports biodiversity. 

Endangered Species Act 

Congress passed the Endangered Species Act in 1973. If a species is “endangered” that means it is at risk of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. A “threatened” species  is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. In the United States, it is unlawful to harm an endangered species. Further, the Act requires federal agencies to review and consult when threatened or endangered species are at stake due to a federal action. 

TCWN has partnered with other organizations in Endanger Species Act litigation to protect endangered fish species native to Tennessee. 

Featured Case

The Tennessee Clean Water Network protected the endangered blackside dace and cumberland darter populations through a lawsuit against the Fish & Wildlife Service and the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). 

TCWN, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, and Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment  (SOCM) reached a settlement with the federal agencies that required them to fully consider coal mining impacts to the endangered species in a Biological Opinion.