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Water Quality

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Division of Water Resources
William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower
312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 11th Floor
Nashville, Tennessee 37243
615-532-0625
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Division of Water Resources is responsible for administration of the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act of 1977 (T.C.A. 69-3-101). In addition, the Division is responsible for the non-coal surface mining program and illegal coal mining under the Tennessee Coal Surface Mining Law of 1980, as amended.

On an annual basis, the Division monitors, analyzes, and reports on the quality of Tennessee's water. In addition, a number of specific surveys are conducted, including studies of in-stream biological communities and documentation of contaminant levels in sediment and fish flesh. The fish and bacteriological data generated by the Division are used by the Department to issue advisories to the public when levels of contaminants exceed those considered to be protective of public health. Numerous complaints and inquiries are investigated and responded to each year.

Under the Water Quality Control Act, municipal, industrial and other discharges of wastewater must obtain a permit from the Division. Approximately, 1,700 permits have been issued under the federally delegated National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). These permits establish pollution control and monitoring requirements based on protection of designated uses through implementation of water quality standards and other applicable state and federal rules.

Activities such as stream channel modifications, wetland alterations or gravel dredging are regulated by this Division. An average of 850 Aquatic Resource Alteration permits, including 125 gravel dredging authorizations are issued annually.Industrial wastes that are discharged to municipal sewer systems are subject to regulations. The Division has given approval to 107 municipal pretreatment programs; 15 additional municipal pretreatment programs are in various phases of development. Discharge permits have been issued to approximately 750 industries.

The review of wastewater construction plans and specifications is another function of the Division. This review pertains to municipal as well as industrial facilities.

The Division's coal surface mining responsibilities include investigation and enforcement of illegal coal mining (coal mining activities not holding a permit from the federal office of Surface Mining). Surface mining of minerals other than coal is also regulated by the Division. Responsibilities include water discharge permitting, mine inspection, enforcement, and administering reclamation bonds and fines for violations as part of the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation program.

The Division conducts inspections of facilities, samples discharges for compliance and pursues enforcement as necessary. Appeals of the Division's permitting and enforcement actions are heard by the Tennessee Board of Water Quality, Oil and Gas.

Under the Water Quality Control Act, municipal, industrial and other discharges of wastewater must obtain a permit from the Division. Activities such as stream channel modifications, wetland alterations or gravel dredging are regulated by this Division. An average of 850 Aquatic Resource Alteration permits, including 125 gravel dredging authorizations are issued annually.

The Division works cooperatively with local, state and federal agencies, as well as other Divisions in the Bureau of Environment on multi-media or other issues of joint responsiblity.