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Water Quality Control Act (Tennessee)

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Tennessee Department Of Environment and Conservation

The Water Quality Control Act (WQCA) establishes the water pollution control program. The WQCA identifies the responsibilities and extent of authority for the Commissioner of the Water Quality Control Board. The WQCA establishes the concept of clean water goals and water quality planning and assessment. The WQCA provides for a permitting program for discharges to, or alterations of, water of the state. The Act also has an antidegredation statement protecting high quality surface waters.

Every person who is planning to conduct an activity that may result in the discharging of any chemical or substance regulated under the federal Clean Water Act must have a valid permit from the Water Quality Control Board (WQCB). Permits are valid for a maximum of 5 years. Permittee must comply with monitoring, recording, reporting and inspection requirements. Under the Water Quality Control Act you must obtain the following permits (more may be applicable): Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit (ARAP)/Section 401 certification, NPDES (national pollutant discharge elimination system) and State Operating Permits, Stormwater General Permit, Surface Mining Permit. The ARAP permit is required for any projects that will physically alter the surface waters of the state. A valid ARAP has the appropriate language to be used as a 401 certification.

For coal the following permitting rules apply: No permit shall be issued that would allow removal of coal from the earth from its original location by surface mining methods or surface access points to underground mining within one hundred feet of the ordinary high water mark of any stream or allow overburden or waste materials from removal of coal from the earth by surface mining of coal to be disposed of within one hundred feet of the ordinary high water mark of a stream; provided, however, that a permit may be issued or renewed for stream crossings, including, but not limited to, rail crossings, utilities crossings, pipeline crossings, minor road crossings, for operations to improve the quality of stream segments previously disturbed by mining and for activities related to and incidental to the removal of coal from its original location, such as transportation, storage, coal preparation and processing, loading and shipping operations within one hundred feet of the ordinary high water mark of a stream if necessary due to site-specific conditions that do not cause the loss of stream function and do not cause a discharge of pollutants in violation of water quality criteria; Without limiting the applicability of this section, if the commissioner determines that surface coal mining at a particular site will violate water quality standards because acid mine drainage from the site will not be amenable to treatment with proven technology both during the permit period or subsequent to completion of mining activities, the permit shall be denied.

Any individual who discharges hydrostatic test water to the waters of Tennessee must file for coverage under the Division of Water Pollution Control General NPDES Permit for Discharges of Hydrostatic Test Water (#CN-1262). This includes discharges from new, unused facilities or operating facilities including, but not limited to, boilers, pipelines, flowlines, storage tanks used for the transportation or storage of natural gas, crude oil, or liquid or gaseous petroleum hydrocarbons.

Operators of construction sites involving clearing, grading or excavation that result in an area of disturbance of one or more acres, and activities that result in the disturbance of less than one acre if it is part of a larger common plan of development or sale must obtain an NPDES stormwater construction permit (#CN-1173) and complete and submit a notice of intent (#CN-0940).