State seeks comment on clean water goals

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF
khelms@starhq.com

   Representatives from Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) will be in Elizabethton Tuesday seeking public comment on proposed revisions to water quality standards for streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands.
   Public hearings will be held locally at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Conference Room at Sycamore Shoals State Park, and at 2 p.m. at Warriors Path State Park In Kingsport. The meetings are part of 13 public hearings scheduled throughout the state during March and April.
   Tennessee surface waters are classified according to their use for domestic water supply, industrial water supply, fish and aquatic life, recreation, irrigation, livestock watering and wildlife, and navigation. The state is recommending revisions to clean water criteria for various pollutants to protect water quality for each use.
   Betsy Child, TDEC commissioner, says the agency needs citizen input on how best to set and achieve these goals to ensure that Tennessee's streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands are protected and available for all citizens.
   The water quality revisions include a recommendation to establish regional goals for certain pollutants, according to Paul Davis, director of the Division of Water Pollution Control. Tennessee previously has used a "one-size-fits-all" approach throughout the state. The proposed revisions allow for regional variability and conditions to better establish strategies which would protect water sources.
   Following the public hearing process and any changes made by TDEC as a result of the public hearings, the revised standards must be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
   The proposed revisions can be reviewed at TDEC's Web site: www.state.tn.us/environment/water.htm. The public may comment by attending one of the public meetings or by providing written comments to: Division of Water Pollution Control, Planning and Standards Section, 6th Floor, L&C Annex, 401 Church St., Nashville, TN 37243-1534. Comments also may be sent by facsimile transmission to (615) 532-0046, or by e-mail to: GregoryDenton@state.tn.us.