Tennessee releases statewide plan to protect water resources

The Memphis skyline stretches out along the Mississippi River. (© Nancy Pierce)

Tennessee is seeking feedback from the public on TN H2O, a statewide plan to protect Tennessee’s water resources released earlier in the month.

Tennessee is blessed with great sources of water today, but we should never take that for granted,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said. “As our state grows, we must maintain our capacity to meet our water needs. That takes a plan, and I am grateful for the amount of work that has gone into this issue.”

SELC was part of the legal working group that contributed to the plan, which makes several recommendations to ensure that Tennessee adequately assesses current water resources and makes sure the state will be able to meet the needs of a growing state through 2040.

This plan has the potential to help Tennesseans work together to protect one of our most valuable natural resources,” said Anne Passino, attorney in SELC’s Nashville office. “Part of the process will be ensuring that the state’s existing laws are being put to work the way they should.”

Recommendations in the plan include:

  • developing a comprehensive water resources planning process based on good science and data collection;
  • maintaining currently available funding sources while seeking or creating additional funding and capacity to support the long-term sustainability of water resources across the state; and
  • putting together a campaign to help the public understand the value of water and other natural resources, and the complexities of managing them.

The development of the plan was prompted by concerns over Tennessee’s growth — its population is projected to double within the next 50 years — and worry about preservation of surface waters and the Memphis Sand Aquifer, a huge reservoir of pure water that provides drinking water in western Tennessee.

The Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation is accepting comment on the plan through Feb. 28, 2019. The public can submit comments here.

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