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Initiated TCWN's first Environmental Health Program

TCWN received a three-year grant from the Tennessee Department of Health to fund the Bringing Tap Back project, which will encourage Tennesseans to drink water instead of sugary drinks as a way to fight the obesity and diabetes epidemics. The project will improve access to public drinking water with the installation of water bottle refill stations in public places, universities, and schools. A corresponding educational campaign will promote the use of the stations and will encourage Tennesseans to foster new, healthy habits.

Cleaning the Tennessee River in Chattanooga

TCWN entered a consent decree resolving its Clean Water Act citizen suit against the City of Chattanooga. The $250 million settlement, also entered by EPA and TDEC, requires Chattanooga to fix its leaking sewage collection system, bring its combined sewer system up to current EPA standards, and invest in green infrastructure to reduce stormwater pollution. As a result, Chattanooga should stop discharging untreated sewage to the Tennessee River within six years.

Protecting Tennessee's wetlands

TCWN protected an additional 25 acres of wetlands through our wetland mitigation inspection program, which also resulted in a $20,000 fine assessed against a permittee who failed to fullfill his wetland mitigation requirements. TCWN also filed and resolved an appeal of TDEC's responses to TCWN formal complaints regarding wetlands.

Reducing Toxic Pollution in Richland Creek

TCWN sent a 60-day notice of intent to sue Tennessee Valley Recycling, an automobile scrapyard that discharges to Richland Creek, the source of drinking water for Giles County. In response, TDEC proposed a draft permit that would have eliminated PCB and TSS limits. TCWN submitted detailed comments, leading TDEC to not only retain the TSS limit, but also to strengthen the PCB limit.


Protecting the Mississippi River

TCWN entered a consent decree with the City of Memphis, EPA, and TDEC that requires Memphis to repair and upgrade its aging sewage collection system. The settlement also requires Memphis to stop discharging foam from the Stiles plant to the Mississippi River. The 10-year rehabilitation program is projected to cost $250 million.

Cleaning Up Industrial Discharges

TCWN helped reduce pollution from three industrial sites throughout Tennessee in 2012: an abandoned zinc processing facility in Mascot, a chemcial plant in Brownsville, and a steel plant in Jackson. TCWN settled a federal citizen suit regarding the Mascot site, requiring the facility to install stormwater pollution controls and obtain a permit, which ended the discharge of milky-white contaminated stormwater to Flat Creek. TCWN also sent 60-day notices of intent to sue Teknor Apex and Gerdau Ameristeel. In response, the state took enforcement action against Teknor, ending permit violations for toxic phthalates and Gerdau re-piped its plant to stop discharging polluted cooling water.

Protecting Tennessee's wetlands

TCWN protected 99 acres of wetlands throughout the state by investgating older mitigation sites and determing which ones were not completed. We notified the state through its formal complaint process about these failures and the result was additional wetland acres permanantly protected.


Holding Polluters Accountable

TCWN settled a lawsuit against a Knox County developer at the Casa Bella Subdivision, where construction discharges had routinely led to bright orange water. The settlement required the developer to comply with the numeric turbidity limits EPA had proposed at the time. Although EPA later pulled the rule after a lawsuit by homebuilders, the Knox County site had no difficulty complying with the limit. TCWN also appealed the dishcharge permit issued to the City of Cookeville, whose wastewater treatment plant contributes to nutrient pollution in Pigeon Roost Creek and the Falling Water River.


Limiting Industrial Farming Pollution

TCWN initiated its first CAFO inspection program, visiting and sampling 7 CAFOs in West Tennessee.  Continued site visits and sampling will be conducted to determine which CAFOs are in violation of their permits and should be pursued for further enforcement.  


Working to improve permits

We commented on over 70 individual permits.  These comments included addressing nutrient and/or dissolved oxygen concerns of 25 wastewater treatment facilities.   Out of the 70 permits on which we commented 51 have been issued and over thirty percent of those were changed as a result of our comments.  These 70 do not include our comments on general 401 Certifications, the general MS4 Phase II permit, the general CAFO permit, the general construction stormwater permit, or individual MS4 permits.  



Commenting on damaging permits

TCWN submitted comments against a permit that would allow the Nestlé water bottling plant in Macon County to increase water withdrawal from Bennett Hill Spring and a tributary to Salt Lick Creek. Our comments were instrumental in Nestlé's decision to extract its request to withdraw more water, which would have had a devastating impact on aquatic life and habitat, not to mention the permanent loss of the water to the watershed and surrounding communities.


Defeated 14 bad water bills

TCWN along with members and other environmental groups worked together to defeat 14 potentially bad water bills in the Tennessee State Legislature. Though one passed, it was very watered down. However, Tennessee's legislative session is two years. Many of these bills will come back.




Working against The Limited Resource Waters Bill

The Limited Resource Waters Bill would have removed protections from an estimated 30,000 miles of streams statewide, resulting in the potential to pipe, cut-off or pollute streams, and therefore destroy water quality with no repercussionsor negative consequences. TCWN, with support from hundreds of members and concerned citizens, fought this bill and won.



The Limited Resource Waters Bill (pdf)
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Monitoring and commenting on irresponsible permit applications

TCWN  commented on more than 24 irresponsible permit applications that would have increased the amount of pollution in our waters.



Granting public access to enforcement actions

TCWN unanimously passed legislation giving the public access to water pollution enforcement actions.
 To see enforcement actions visit http://state.tn.us/environment/wpc/enforcement/

Protect our most precious waters through legal action

TCWN worked with attorneys to reach a settlement with TDEC that will allow for better criteria to protect our most precious waters, like the Hatchie River.



Protecting our most precious waters

In the 2006 triennial review, TCWN was influential in the creation of a new definition for Tier II waters that includes some place-based parks and federal requirements, but requires only an alternatives analysis for waters that are better than the water quality criteria set as the minimum.



Mobilizing Tennesseans

Launched our Build the River Movement program with a focus on community organizing that has assisted over a dozen communities facing threats to our clean water.

Protecting your right to participate

Third party permit appeal right was granted to Tennesseans due to legislation TCWN created and worked to get passed. This is a right granted to us in the Clean Water Act that the state had denied to Tennessean for 30 years.



Stopping sewage pollution

In December 2004, we settled a consent decree with the Knoxville Utility Board for sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs). This settlement is the most progressive clean-up schedule in the nation.

Preserving our natural resources

In coalition with other groups, TCWN reached an agreement with Alcoa Power Generating Inc. to preserve 10,000 acres of land adjacent to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The agreement puts water back into two previously dry stretches of river, and provides more than $12 million for conservation projects and enhanced recreational facilities.



Keeping water clean

TCWN led a statewide organizing effort around Tennessee’s 2003 triennial review of water quality standards. Our most important success was the adoption of new antidegradation rules. Antidegradation rules are used to clean waters that are polluted and protect those that are pristine. The 2003 rules include: opportunities for public notification and involvement; an “appeal” process for antidegradation determination decisions; and “stay” provisions to halt a proposed activity during the appeal process.



Limiting industrial pollution

TCWN and the Southern Environmental Law Center successfully worked with the US EPA to establish a 10-year schedule for the state’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program limiting industrial pollution to state waterways. TCWN held a workshop to encourage local community groups to participate in the TMDL process.

Tennessee Clean Water Network

625 Market St.

Knoxville, TN 37902


Mailing Address:

PO BOX 1521

Knoxville, TN 37901


Office: 865.522.7007

Fax: 865.525.4988