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Archive for January, 2009

TCWN stops Nestlé water withdrawal increase!

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

In December TCWN submitted comments on a permit reissuance request from a Nestlé water bottling plant in Macon County.  The permit included changes amounting to withdrawing water during times of lower stream flow; therefore, an increase in water being removed from the stream for the purpose of bottling.  We drafted comments detailing the negative impacts an increase in withdrawal from Bennett Hill Spring and a tributary to Salt Lick Creek would have on aquatic life and habitat, not to mention the permanent loss of the water to the watershed and surrounding communities. 

Upon receipt of our comments along with those from TWRA and US Fish & Wildlife, Nestlé withdrew its request to alter its permit!  With a little input and a commitment to protecting Tennessee’s natural resources you can stop the degradation of our stream and waterways from private businesses.  Every two weeks TCWN provides a summary of permits proposed for altering or impacting our water resources.  Take a minute and look at those in your area.  If you see something you think will harm our water resources, let TDEC know.  Draft some comments and voice your concerns.  The waters of Tennessee belong to all of us and all of us can work to protect them!

Thanks to TCWN!

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

When I first started interning at TCWN last February in order to get class credit at UT, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know what an ARAP or NPDES was. I didn’t know what TDEC stood for. I barely even knew how to use the copier or their “fancy” phone system. Fortunately, Dana was there to enlighten me about the phone, among her many lessons. My one year at TCWN has been an invaluable experience, both educational and incredibly fun. I have had the chance to wade around wetland sites, dress up in a wetsuit and look for mussels, go up in a four-seater airplane, monitor streams, drive sneakily around suspicious developments, conduct file reviews, and so much more.

Most importantly, I have met and gotten to know the wonderful and hard-working staff of TCWN: Renee, Dana, Kristina, and my fellow intern Greg. I will be forever grateful for their patience and generosity in including me in everything TCWN does. I have learned so much this past year thanks to them.

I am getting ready to leave to study abroad for a semester in Edinburgh, Scotland, where I hope to start the Scottish TCWN satellite office and solve Scotland’s water problems.

I can’t thank TCWN enough for everything they’ve done for me as well as the wonderful work they do in protecting our state’s precious waters. Keep up the great work, guys!

All the best,

Morgan McCorkle

Images at the Kingston Fly Ash Spill

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Stillness. Calming blue skies…….

Planes, boats, trucks, bulldozers, workers, activity at the Kingston Fossil plant area spill.

So why does a sobering stillness prevail? Perhaps it is the images.

Remaining intact is one side of the pond’s grassy, “stepped,” slopes leading up to the coal ash pond’s rim, so I can picture the pond as it existed before Dec. 22. Then I see the pond’s other side, a stark contrast. No grassy slopes. What lies before me can easily be a scene from a Cormac McCarthy novel or a science fiction movie. As I pick up a handful of wet, compacted particles, I remember the mud pies I once made as a child. But these clumps are coal gray, not brown, and many clumps rise like mini-skyscrapers in front of what was once the coal ash containment wall. Ironically, clear water from a natural spring meanders over the top of the spill’s smoother surface areas toward the river. Workers have begun to separate the largest spill area from the river by forming a new “wall” with rocks. As TVA personnel give Renee Hoyos, Executive Director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network, and me a tour of the coal ash sludge spill on Friday, January 9, we see the 5.3 million cubic yards of coal ash—sizes of ash debris varies, but I had not expected the boulder-proportioned chunks that are more solid than I had imagined- and the massive clean up efforts taking place all around us; Renee takes pictures; we ask many questions, realizing that water quality questions are important to all of us, particularly the residents of the area. The clean up, which TVA promises to do, will take much time and money. A mix of machines and men now works on area roads and properties, within the ash sludge itself, and out in the Emory River.

After it is cleaned up, what should we do? Right now I see continued involvement as the key in monitoring the long term effects of the spill and in preventing another disaster such as this.

Janet King

The Mississippi River IS in Your Backyard

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

The Mississippi River may not seem like a significant part of Tennessee unless you live in the western third of the state, but actually most of the state drains to the Mississippi River either directly or through the Tennessee River Basin.   All the pollutants and contaminants we contribute to our tributaries flowing into the Tennessee River eventually end up in the Mississippi River and then in the Gulf of Mexico.  For this reason we at TCWN work with several other statewide environmental groups along the Mississippi River to on water quality issues.  Together we make up the Mississippi River Basin Collaborative. 

From Louisiana to Wisconsin we work with these groups to develop protective water quality standards, enforce existing water quality laws, develop protective policies, and ensure effective and cohesive measures are in place to protect our waters.  This group consists of committed advocates for improved environmental protection and serves as an important resource to us at TCWN and throughout the basin.

When it rains, it pours on TVA

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Another day, another report of a TVA spill.  This time in Alabama.  This would be the second one this week, if you count the sediment release into the Ocoee River on Sunday.  Plus, the big one in Kingston (Renee has new photos to show everyone from her visit to the plant today).

Read more about both spills:

Widows Creek Fossil Plant (Alabama)


Ocoee #3 Dam Spill Coverage

Knoxville News Sentinel