Cookeville residents Get Big Win With Consent Decree Signed By Davidson County Chancellor

Cookeville residents Get Big Win With Consent Decree Signed By Davidson County Chancellor

Consent Decree Addresses Nutrient and Other Pollution Problems in the Putnam County area

April 25, 2016

April 25, 2016

For Immediate Release

Davidson County Chancellor Signs Consent Decree to Improve Water Quality in Cookeville Area

Knoxville, Tennessee - Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) Executive Director Renee Hoyos announced that a Davidson County Chancery Court judge has signed a consent decree that will reduce the pollutants from the Cookeville Waste Treatment Plant and its sewer collection system flowing into the Pigeon Roost Creek in Putnam County, Tennessee.

The consent decree is a result of successful negotiations between TCWN, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and the City of Cookeville regarding the alleged violations of the city’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for its waste water treatment plant and its sewer collection system.

“This is great news for the people of Cookeville and Putman County,” Hoyos said.  “The citizens of these communities have been putting up with the pollution of their waterways for years, and now the court has established a firm timeline for the reduction of pollutants going into the rivers and creeks.”

Hoyos said that the TCWN complaint alleges more than 140 sewer overflows between 2011 and 2014 in Cookeville.  There were also alleged violations of the plant’s NPDES permit and the federal Clean Water Act related to the discharge of nitrogen and phosphorus in concentrations harmful to aquatic life in the receiving streams.

This history of pollution at the Cookeville facilities forced TCWN to send a letter of intent to sue to Cookeville in 2013 with the hope of forcing corrective action that would help protect the health and welfare of the citizens of Cookeville and Putnam County.

“With the consent decree now signed, the parties have agreed to take action on these issues with a timeline for completing much-needed improvements.  And the people of Cookeville and Putnam County are the real winners with the consent decree signed as the river that serves as the source of their drinking water will be cleaner and the waters they use for recreation and irrigation will be safer,” Hoyos added.

Hoyos said the consent decree calls for Cookeville to:

  • Comply with the levels for total phosphorus and total nitrogen as stated in the plant’s March 1, 2013 NPDES permit
  • Develop a waste water treatment plant optimization plan that will help to reduce the levels of total phosphorus and nitrogen to the maximum extent possible without imposing capital expenditures on Cookeville
  • Fund an $80,000 supplemental environmental project that assists TDEC in establishing a monitoring project for the Falling Water River watershed that screens for pollutants of concern and the development of a total maximum daily load for those pollutants in the watershed
  • Complete corrective action plans to eliminate or greatly reduce the number of sanitary sewer overflows by 2018

The consent decree also contains a schedule of monetary penalties for Cookeville in case any deadlines for action called for in the decree are missed.

The entire consent decree is posted on the TCWN website.



About TCWN:

Tennessee Clean Water Network is a nonprofit organization created to advocate for strong policies and programs that result in more effective protection and restoration of Tennessee’s waters and to educate organizations, decision-makers and the public about important water resource issues. Visit TCWN’s website at for more information on TCWN’s programs and policies to improve water quality in the state.