Tennessee Panel Developing Statewide Water Plan

Expected population growth, "along with recent concerns over the utilization of the Memphis Sands Aquifer, droughts that have impacted numerous Tennessee communities, failures of aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, and interstate battles over water rights, all stress the need to develop a statewide plan for addressing water availability," according to the governor's office.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Jan. 18 that he has appointed a steering committee to develop a statewide plan for future water availability in Tennessee. The plan, dubbed TN H2O, will include an assessment of current water resources and recommendations to help ensure the state has an abundance of water resources to support its future population and economic growth.

The committee consists of leaders from federal, state, and local governments; industry; academia; environmental advocacy groups; and public utilities. They have been asked to submit a draft of TN H2O to the governor and will make it available for public input by October 2018.

"Abundant, clean water has been a strategic advantage for Tennessee and is critical to our quality of life," Haslam said. "We need to ensure this critical natural resource is managed appropriately as our state continues to grow and prosper."

According to the governor's news release, Tennessee's population is estimated to double in the next 50 years. "This growth, along with recent concerns over the utilization of the Memphis Sands Aquifer, droughts that have impacted numerous Tennessee communities, failures of aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, and interstate battles over water rights, all stress the need to develop a statewide plan for addressing water availability," it says.

Tennessee Deputy to the Gov. Jim Henry will chair of the steering committee. "Tennessee's manufacturing, agriculture, energy, and tourism efforts benefit greatly from our water resources," Henry said. "I am honored to help lead this important initiative and look forward to presenting the TN H2O plan to the governor in October."

The announcement says the plan "will pay particular attention to surface and groundwater, water and wastewater infrastructure, water reuse and land conservation, as well as institutional and legal framework." Working groups will conduct the research and gather information; the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation will oversee the plan's development.

Besides Henry, committee members include:

  • Randy McNally, Tennessee's lieutenant governor
  • Beth Harwell, speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives
  • Dr. John Dreyzehner, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Health
  • Bob Martineau, commissioner, Department of Environment and Conservation
  • Bob Rolfe, commissioner, Department of Economic and Community Development
  • Jai Templeton, commissioner, Department of Agriculture
  • Kevin Triplett, commissioner, Department of Tourism
  • Ed Carter, executive director, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
  • Dr. Shari Meghreblian, deputy commissioner, Department of Environment and Conservation
  • Dr. Ken Moore, mayor of Franklin, Tenn.
  • Jim Strickland, mayor of Memphis
  • Jeff Aiken, president, Tennessee Farm Bureau
  • Valoria Armstrong, president, Tennessee American Water Co.
  • Bill Johnson, president and CEO, Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Col. Michael A. Ellicott, Jr., commander, USACE Memphis District
  • Bob Freudenthal, executive director, Tennessee Association of Utility Districts
  • W. Scott Gain, director, U.S. Geological Survey

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