Where can I find water quality information?
Good question. There are three main government agencies a concerned citizen can look to for water quality data- the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
TDEC is required by the EPA to monitor the water quality of Tennessee's streams, river, and lakes and determine if they meet their designated uses. It is also required to report its findings to the EPA and make them available for the public.
Tennesseans can find TDEC's monitoring data here. Ambient monitoring data can be viewed as a data viewer table. It records chemical and fish tissue data taken at ambient monitoring sites throughout the state.
The map viewer shows the location of permit holders and the results of TDEC's latest stream assessments. Clicking on a water body will bring up its information. You can see example screenshots to the right.
The EPA is the federal agency responsible for the environmental integrity of the nation, including its waters. It monitors waters, researches pollutants and their impacts, educates the public and local agencies, defines pollutant loads, and much more.
Many of its tasks concerning water quality can be delegated to the states themselves. Despite this, the EPA can be a valuable resource for finding water quality data if you can navigate their maze of links. Thankfully, the agency has consolidated most of its state-level information and links into the MyEnvironment page.
Photo Credit: National Resources Defense Council
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