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IN TENNESSEE, THERE'S WATER EVERYWHERE, REALLY? ASK TN H2O

from The Daily Times - February 7, 2018

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

I am haunted by waters.”

— Norman Maclean, “A River Runs Through It”

Noted author Maclean, who died in 1990 at the age of 87, may have captured something more than he realized when he hit upon river as metaphor. Not referencing the lyrical, insightful thrust of the first paragraph of the quote, not that part. The last sentence, “I am haunted by waters.” That’s the essence.

While the world has been obsessed with oil as the fluid that lubricates economies — liquid gold it’s called — a broader perspective would put that notion to rest. Consider the course of human history, then look ahead to the future. Everywhere, you’ll find water at the crux, especially if there is not enough to drink or grow crops.

In 2016, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence ranked water scarcity as second only to terrorism as the greatest threat to our national security. The aging infrastructure was tapped as the major concern. Worsening droughts was another.

If nothing else, many places in America will have to face the end of inexpensive water. It’s not complicated. The oldest economic principle in the book lays it out in three words: supply and demand.

It would be easy for Tennesseans, with our rivers and reservoirs, to presume our state is immune to such circumstance. Bill Haslam doesn’t think so, and the governor is right.

In January, to not much acclaim, he 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.

The plan is called TN H2O. The initiative will include an assessment of current water resources and recommendations to help ensure Tennessee has an abundance of water to support future population and economic growth. The steering committee will submit a draft of TN H2O to the governor and will make it available for public input by October.

You’re probably thinking, nothing wrong with that, but what’s the point? Maybe not much of one, not unless you think Tennessee’s manufacturing, agriculture, energy and tourism efforts can do without an abundant supply of water.

Go ahead, go the kitchen, turn on the tap, fill a glass with crystal clarity that never fails to quench your thirst. Take it for granted.

Haslam notes that abundant, clean water has been a strategic advantage for Tennessee and is critical to our quality of life. It is a natural resource that has to be managed appropriately for the state to continue to grow and prosper. The governor is right.

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.

Imagine you’re living in Flint, Mich. You’re handing a glass of tap water to your child to drink. You’re wondering if you’re being a terrible parent, trusting the government again. Wondering if it’s so pure and safe, why is it tinted? Why does it have an odor?

TN H2O 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 composed of subject matter experts will conduct the research and gather information. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation will oversee the development of TN H2O.

It’s not a moment too soon to ensure Tennessee is guaranteed an abundant and quality supply of water. You may not see it now, looking through that clear glass, but time is running out. Drip, drip, drip.

PROTECTING TENNESSEE'S PRECIOUS WATER SUPPLY

from Johnson City Press - January 26, 2018

Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed a steering committee of government officials, business leaders and environmental advocates to formulate a plan to protect Tennessee’s valuable water supply. A draft of this plan, to be designated TN H2O, is expected to be on the governor’s desk by October.

Haslam said protecting the availability of a clean and reliable water supply in Tennessee is vital to support this state’s growing population and sustain economic growth.

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

Concerns about the Memphis Sands Aquifer, an aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and interstate battles over water rights have stressed the need for a statewide plan for addressing water availability.

In recent years, state legislators in Georgia have tried a number of schemes to siphon water from the Tennessee River.

Dry conditions across the Southeast have made water supply and river management a key issue for the Tennessee Valley Authority. Cities like Atlanta would love to have access to TVA’s water resources. Key to those resources is the Tennessee River, which empties as much water by volume into the Ohio as the much-longer Missouri does into the Mississippi.

A reliable water supply is a community’s lifeblood. It’s what fuels growth and development. Without it, communities literally dry up and become ghost towns.

Here in Johnson City, administrators have been careful to prepare a long-range plan to address much-needed capital needs in the water and sewer systems.

Municipalities with overburdened or failing sewer systems often find themselves placed under state and federal scrutiny. There are a number of communities in Tennessee that are under moratoriums that prohibit new building permits to be issued until major improvements are made to their systems.

Johnson City officials say they don’t want to become one of those areas where development has been strangled by an inadequate water/sewer system.

That’s why it has been necessary for the city to make a major investment in improving its infrastructure. The state must be willing to do the same.

That’s why we are pleased to hear the governor say he is determined to protect our state’s precious water resources for future Tennesseans.

HASLAM APPOINTS STEERING COMMITTEE TO DEVELOP STATEWIDE PLAN FOR FUTURE WATER AVAILABILITY

NASHVILLE – January 18, 2018

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.

The plan, TN H2O, will include an assessment of current water resources and recommendations to help ensure Tennessee has an abundance of water resources to support future population and economic growth. The steering committee will 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.”

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.

Tennessee Deputy to the Gov. Jim Henry serves as chairman 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.”

TN H2O 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 composed of subject matter experts will conduct the research and gather information. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) will oversee the development of TN H2O.

“A statewide plan will position the public and private sectors to better understand how to best preserve our water resources,” TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau said. “The time is now to make mindful, fact-driven recommendations for the future of our water.”

Below is the full list of steering committee members:

  • Jim Henry, Deputy to the Governor, State of Tennessee
  • Randy McNally, Lieutenant Governor, State of Tennessee
  • Beth Harwell, Speaker of the House of Representatives, State of Tennessee
  • Dr. John Dreyzehner, Commissioner, 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, City of Franklin
  • Jim Strickland, Mayor, City of Memphis
  • Dr. Philip Oldham, President, Tennessee Technological University
  • Jerri S. Bryant, Chancellor, 10th Judicial District
  • Jeff Aiken, President, Tennessee Farm Bureau
  • Valoria Armstrong, President, Tennessee American Water Co.
  • Bill Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Col. Michael A. Ellicott, Jr., Commander, USACE Memphis District
  • Michael Butler, Chief Executive Officer, Tennessee Wildlife Federation
  • Hanneke Counts, Vice President, Eastman Chemical
  • Lt. Col. Cullen A. Jones, Commander, USACE Nashville District
  • Bob Freudenthal, Executive Director, Tennessee Association of Utility Districts
  • W. Scott Gain, Director, US Geological Survey
  • Mekayle Houghton, Executive Director, Cumberland River Compact
  • Kevin Igli, Senior Vice President, Tyson Foods
  • Bo Perkinson, Board President, Tennessee Municipal League