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Archive for October, 2008

Clean Water Authority Restoration Act HR 2421/S.1870

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

This article just came over my email.  I think it is worth a mention that not all people working in government are too happy at recent Supreme Court decisions and the current fallout from EPA.  Many rivers in the United States are being reclassified as non-navigable, when indeed, they are navigable-in-fact.


There is a fix for this.  It’s call the Clean Water Restoration Act. It simply removes the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act, thus solidifying the CWA’s original intent to protect ALL waters of the nation.  I think the word appears something like twice in the act.

Now here’s what the detractors say.

“This act will increase enforcement activities by the Feds.”  No so. This does not touch the enforcement sections of the CWA.

“People will be regulating bird baths and puddles.”  I hear this one a lot.  I cannot believe someone would actually utter it.  It is by far the most stupid argument against this legislation I have heard yet.  Give me an argument with umph. PLEASE!!! As if the Feds have time to do something like this.  Ridiculous.

“Farmers will have to comply with the CWA.” Again, not so.  Agriculture is exempt from the CWA except when they have heavy equipment in a stream.

Unfortunately, not too many of our federal representatives support this legislation.  Neither of our Senators support it and only three of our representatives - Gordon, Cooper and Cohen are co-sponsors.  Many thanks to the three of them.

Please give the remaining delegation a call and tell them that you want them to co-sponsor this legislation.  Call us and we’ll give you the low down, fact sheets and everything you need to state your case.


Water Privatization - or rather Corporatization

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

I was fortunate to spend last weekend at the Omega Center in upstate New York with environmentalists from all over the U.S. to discuss water issues that are on the horizon. Of major concern was the corporatization of water. Industries for years have been trying to get into the water game and the results have been bad to tragic. Many communities across the United States have encountered increased rates and decreased service as corporations bow to the bottom line instead of the public interest. Turning on the tap and getting air instead of water is not something Americans are used to nor should it be expected in a first world nation.

As you’ve read in Dana’s post, we have seen the threat writ large in Giles County. That community has been fighting an assault on their precious spring for almost two years. Last week they had a win. But Ice River Springs and their cohorts will be back. Maybe in your community.

This is how they operate. They look for rural, cash strapped communities that have springs or headwaters. They approach the County Commission or similar governing body with promises to improve existing infrastructure or create new treatment plants, filter water and sell it back to the community guaranteed as safe. They will also bottle the rest and sell it outside the area and sometimes outside the country, thereby providing jobs and increased income to the community. Sounds good? It is too good to be true and so it is not.

This is generally what happens. The company will lay off half of the existing employees at the drinking water plant if there is one. If they build, they will not hire the amount of people they say they will. Remember it is about the bottom line, not resource management. When the company has financial trouble they will skimp on infrastructure improvements and other forms of upkeep. When the company goes into bankruptcy, the community will have no water. It will simply be turned off. Once the community wakes up to these realities, it is left with very difficult choices. It must either buy out the remaining contract in an attempt to get the spring/facility back into public hands. If the company is an international company, the company can sue the community under Chapter 13 of NAFTA.

Giles County dodged a bullet last week and the community continues to be vigilant about corporatization of the Campbellville Spring. If you have a resource in your community, do all you can to keep it in public hands, not private. If you hear of a company making promises to your community leaders about privatizing your water, call us immediately. We will help you keep your resource in public hands so that the public will always have control of the most precious resource we need to live - WATER.


Private Company Seeks Residents’ Water Rights in Giles County

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Last week I traveled to Giles County to work with a group of residents seeking to maintain public ownership of a spring in their county. The Giles County Citizens for Natural Resource Protection have worked hard to learn about the potential impacts of privatizing water and inform residents about the negative repercussions they could face by leasing away their rights. I answered questions and addressed concerns voiced by this group in an effort to further inform them about the risks associated with water privatization during a time of significant growth coupled with worsening drought conditions. I was incredibly impressed with this group of committed residents, their eagerness to protect not only this important source of future drinking water, but also to protect their natural resources.

The following morning they allowed me to attend and speak at a public meeting of the Property Committee, which was hearing a presentation from Aspen Holding Company, who is seeking to lease the County’s spring water on a 50 year lease. Again, the residents in attendance impressed me with their knowledge, concern, and commitment to do what is best for the citizens of Giles County. Luckily, in the attend the Committee voted to take more time to assess the impacts, complete a thorough study on the issue, and hold a public hearing before making a recommendation to the County Commission to accept the offer from Aspen Holding Company.

The threat of water privatization is increasing tremendously throughout the state. It is dangerous and often environmentally disastrous to sell or lease public water rights to private companies, and Giles County is all to familiar with these facts. Communities must become informed and aware of the risks associated with privatization. They become at risk to lose significant amounts of water as private companies monitor and determine the amount available to the affected community. As residents of any community with a public drinking water source, you are accountable to your neighbor and your fellow residents to use and protect that water in a responsible manner. Selling off your rights takes away your right to make decisions affecting your important drinking water source.

Where’s the Creek?

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Have you ever been driving along a stretch of road that you have driven hundreds, if not thousands, of times before, then you see something odd- out of place?  You can’t quite place it so maybe you make a u-turn and drive back past it.  Then you wonder, “how long has it been like that? and “how could I have missed that?”

Well, that happened to me a couple of weeks ago.  See, I was driving through Jefferson City on Andrew Johnson Highway, like I do almost every day, when I saw this:

Mossy Creek in Jefferson City

This used to be Mossy Creek- where the pipe is.  Here is what it looks like just half a mile from here:

Mossy Creek in Jefferson City

I have no idea what is going on with the creek.  Mossy Creek holds historical significance to Jefferson City so I have a hard time imagining that whatever is going on is acceptable to the community.

I find it alarming that a creek can be here one day and gone the next.  I’m told this kind of thing happens often in Tennessee.  Even more alarming.

I’ll keep you posted on what I find out.  If you have anything like this going on in your community, we sure would like to know about it.  We can’t be everywhere, so we are relying on you to be our eyes and ears.  Together, we can protect our precious creeks and streams.

River Hero Award Wrap Up

Friday, October 3rd, 2008


We had a wonderful time last night honoring Dr. Liane Russell as the 2008 Bill Russell River Hero Award recipient.  A crowd of about 80 people gathered at the beautiful Foundry at World’s Fair Park to celebrate Lee’s many incredible accomplishments.  Check out our Flickr page for photos from last night’s celebration.

After the presentation, TCWN Board President Greg Buppert announced the award will now be the “Liane and Bill Russell River Hero Award.”  Greg also presented Lee with two white fringetrees that will be planted in her honor at two of her favorite places, Obed Wild and Scenic River and Frozen Head State Park.

We have to thank our sponsors for their support:

Communication Resources
Globally Green Consulting, LLC
Knoxville News Sentinel
Joe W. McCaleb & Associates
The Nature Conservancy- Tennessee Chapter
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning
Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation

Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association

We’d also like to thank Anetta Watson, WATE 6 News Anchor Gene Patterson, Phil Campbell, the staff of The Foundry, TCWN board members Greg Buppert, Katie Larue, Janet King and Dennis McCarthy, TCWP board members and all those that joined us for an unforgettable night.