Haslam names committee to study TN water resources

Press release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced he has appointed a steering committee of leaders from federal, state and local governments, industry, academia, environmental advocacy groups and public utilities to develop a statewide plan for future water availability in Tennessee.  Continue reading

More on Trump getting a Hawkins County subdivision lot — maybe just a promotional stunt?

Rogersville developer Phillip Henard tells the Kingsport Times-News that he got the “crazy idea” of quitclaiming a lot in a subdivision he owns to President Donald Trump a year or so ago and presidential associates recently agreed to accept it. But he denies speculation by a local utility district official that the move was part of an effort to get water service into the Grandview Estates subdivision.

The newspaper otherwise elaborates on earlier cryptic reports about transfer of the subdivision lot, which were based on a press release issued by Henard, after reviewing the deed and interviews with Henard and Lakeview Utility District Superintendent Tim Carwile.

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TVA finds arsenic, other toxins in ground water beneath Memphis plant

The Tennessee Valley Authority has reported finding high levels of arsenic and other toxins in ground water underlying a Southwest Memphis power plant where thousands of tons of coal ash are impounded, reports The Commercial Appeal.

The arsenic, measured at levels more than 300 times the federal drinking-water standard, was discovered in monitoring wells at the Allen Fossil Plant. Excessive amounts of lead also showed up in the 50-foot-deep wells that were installed to check for any pollution emanating from ponds containing ash and boiler slag generated by burning coal.

The tainted ground water lies within a half-mile of where TVA recently drilled five 650-foot-deep wells into the Memphis Sand aquifer, the source of local drinking water, from which it plans to pump 3.5 million gallons daily to cool a natural gas-fueled power plant under construction. Local scientists and environmentalists had opposed the wells, saying the pumping could pull contaminants into the Memphis Sand.

However, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation officials say they believe the pollution is restricted to the upper-most aquifer and does not pose a threat to the much deeper Memphis Sand.

“We are confident the contaminants found in TVA wells at the Allen Fossil Plant are not impacting drinking water. Out of an abundance of caution, we have requested Memphis Light, Gas and Water (Division) to sample its treated water in order to give that assurance to customers,” TDEC spokesman Eric Ward said in an email.





Report on high lead levels in school drinking water may boost ‘flushing’ bill in legislature

Reports of unsafe levels of lead in the drinking water at some Nashville schools may improve chances for passage of legislation that died in a House subcommittee earlier this year, reports WTVF-TV.

The TV station recently found data from a survey of Nashville school water, not previously made public, that showed 81 of 2,800 samples had lead levels higher than the 15 parts per billion, the “action level” established by the Environmental Protection Agency. The American Academy of Pediatrics says a child’s drinking water should have no more than one part per billion and about third of the samples were in excess of that level. At one high school, the level was 1,190 parts per billion.

Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, sponsored a bill this year (HB385) that would require daily “flushing” of water systems in school building built before 1986.

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Nonprofit Mississippi River group dissolves after audit questions arise

A nonprofit group established protect and promote the Mississippi River in the stretch along Tennessee’s border has ceased operations after state auditors alleged improper bidding procedures in the design and construction of a $2 million visitors center, reports the Commercial Appeal.

The board of directors of the Mississippi River Corridor-Tennessee voted to dissolve because the Tennessee Department of Transportation terminated a contract with the group and quit paying invoices, said Diana Threadgill, president and executive director. “We just ran out of money,” she said.

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TDEC fines TDOC for pollution by two prisons

In a case of one state agency penalizing another, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation recently fined the Tennessee Department of Correction for stream pollution near the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in Lauderdale County and the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex north of Chattanooga, according to the Commercial Appeal.

Potential fines in the TDEC order total $457,806. That can be reduced or eliminated the TDOC restores the streams – the Hatchie River in West Tennessee and a tributary of the Caney Fork River in Bledsoe County — and wetlands damaged by the pollution and outlines other environmental-restoration projects.

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Florida-Georgia squabble could impact Tennessee-Georgia border dispute?

Georgia appears on its way to winning a lawsuit with Florida over the use of water from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers, reports the Times-Free Press, and that has led to talk of the Peach State launching a legal effort to change its border with the Volunteer State to take water from the Tennessee River.

The Florida-Georgia dispute didn’t involve borders; rather Florida’s 2013 lawsuit sought to restrict Georgia’s removal of water from the rivers in question, which flow south from Georgia into Florida. A special magistrate appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court, Ralph Lancaster, has issued his findings in the matter, which now go to the Supreme Court for a final decision.

Officials in the offices of Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Attorney General Chris Carr did not respond to questions about whether they might try to parlay Lancaster’s recommendation on the Florida issue into a new legal challenge on the state’s northern border.

Georgia lawmakers have long claimed a faulty 1818 survey left the state line roughly a mile south of the 35th parallel, which is where the border was intended to go. The mistake means the Tennessee River stays in Tennessee until it crosses into Alabama near South Pittsburg.

It comes within about 300 feet of the Georgia state line at one point in Marion County, leaving Dade County, Ga., tantalizingly close to the water.

With a sliver of the river in its control, Georgia could access Nickajack Lake to pump up to 1 billion gallons a day into the state to quench widespread water woes, magnified last year as the area grappled with devastating drought.

Dade County (GA) Executive Ted Rumley said last week the issue is still alive, even though it has been quiet for a few years. In 2013, Georgia lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a resolution offering to give up the border dispute in exchange for 1.5 square miles of Tennessee land, where a pipeline could be built. Tennessee scoffed at the deal.

“There’s some things that are coming back on this,” Rumley said. “It’s never been dead, but it’s just been on the back burner as far as the actual border dispute. I think it’s something you’ll see come back in the next year or so.”

… Marion County (TN) Mayor David Jackson said he remains “totally opposed” to moving the border or offering a slice of his county to Georgia.

“It gets into planning,” he said. “Maybe they should look at better ways to plan in the future.”


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