(865) 522-7007CONTACT

Can you provide a glossary of frequently used terms on your website?

Here's a starter: 
Anti degradation: This policy in the Clean Water Act protects rivers and streams from becoming more polluted. The rivers that fall under this category are usually high quality. In the Tennessee Water Quality Standards, which are rules to protect Tennessee's rivers and streams, these rivers are considered "available" or "unavailable" for pollution. We don't like that terminology either.
Here's how it works:
Let's say Industry X wants to put more pollution, let's say "zinc" in a river. If the river is not polluted for zinc, they may do so. If the river is polluted for zinc, the industry must perform an economic and social justification for putting more zinc in the river. To do so, they must submit in writing why it is socially and economically justified for the community, not for the industry - that's big distinction - to put more zinc in the river. They must also have public hearings in the area that will be getting the pollution. The point being that the community - YOU - get to have a say as to whether the pollution benefits your community. Sometimes it does - like when you get a new sewage treatment plant - sometimes it doesn't. It up to YOU.
How you can get involved:
You can attend these hearings and make your feelings known about this pollution. TDEC takes your comments and then decides whether or not to issue the permit. Sometime TDEC issues the permit and gives Industry all they asked for. Sometimes TDEC alters the permit so that Industry has to make changes to comply. TDEC puts all permits that are pending and approved online. We send out a bi-monthly enewsletter that has these permits listed. To sign up for the enews letter click here.
Bad legislation in 2009, would have taken away this very useful process. To see how the bad water bills of 2009 fared go here. 
Clean Water Act: This is the federal water law that all states much comply with. The states can have a state water law that is more stringent than the federal law, but they cannot have a weaker water law than the CWA. The CWA relies on public participation. That's why we like it so much. YOU can make a difference. YOU can have a say about decisions that affect the rivers and stream you love. YOU can get involved and we want to help you do so! The federal government delegates their authority to the state. This means that the EPA says to the states, "States, make your own water pollution laws. They must be as strict as ours or stricter!" And the States either do so or decline and allow the EPA to run their programs. In Tennessee, we have a delegated program and our own water law, the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act (TNWQCA).
How you can get involved:
In 2009, the Tennessee should be coming out with it's water quality standards and we continue to bother them until they give us a date. They do this every three years. They also evaluate their streams and put them on a list of impaired (polluted) rivers. They do that every two years. TDEC has hearings for those documents. You can look the reports over and if you see something you don't like, you can go to the hearing a comment in writing or verbally, preferably both. Then you can help us watch permits to see if Industry is violating the standards. You can also monitor your rivers and streams and turn in the data to TDEC. Though TDEC will not use the data to list rivers on the impaired waters list or to create standards, they may go out and take some data themselves and agree that the stream should be listed or that the standard needs to be changed. Again, YOU getting involved makes the difference! Call us today and we'll put you to work! 865.522.7007 x100 or email Renee.
Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) or Too Many Damned Lawyers!
This part of the CWA which is also in the Tennessee WQCA creates a watershed plan and a cap on pollution. It creates the total maximum daily load a river can take of pollution X. That's the theory. In reality, a lawsuit in the early 2000s created the requirement for hundreds of TMDLs to be done in Tennessee. Unfortunately, there was no money to implement them. The plans were made, but there was no follow up. One of the easiest things to do was to put the caps created by the TMDLs into permits, but that's not happening. So the program has not become the fix-all the environmental community had hoped it would be. There are still some good uses for it. It usually lists all the contributors for pollution and has a plan to fix them. There are no hooks for enforcement, though.
NPDES - National Pollution Discharge Elimination System -
This is the permit program we talk about all the time. It is a system designed to ELIMINATE pollution. Unfortunately, it just spreads it around. It is for point sources which means pollution coming out of a pipe. This includes stormwater, but it does NOT include agricultural runoff. Permits are issued by TDEC. They are put out for public notice on their website and you have 30 days from the posting to comment. We comment on many permits and are happy to teach you how to do it too. If you sign up for our enews, we list them as well.

Tennessee Clean Water Network

625 Market St.
Knoxville, TN 37901
Mailing Address:
PO BOX 1521
Knoxville, TN 37901
Office: 865.522.7007
Fax: 865.525.4988

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