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Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation keeps Duck River withdrawal limits – Tennessee Lookout

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation keeps Duck River withdrawal limits – Tennessee Lookout

George Nolan, attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. (Photo: John Partipilo)

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has reaffirmed its commitment to preserve the Duck River by retaining water withdrawal limits. Marshall County appealed against these limits being dropped.

The Duck River is the longest river in Tennessee and is also one the most biologically diverse rivers in North America. It is home to 151 species fish, 56 freshwater mussel types, 22 aquatic snail species, and 225 species macroinvertebrates including aquatic insects and crustaceans.

August saw TDEC issue a permit to Marshall County Board of Public Utilities for the construction and operation of a water intake facility on Duck River. However, water withdrawals were limited.

Companies are prohibited from withdrawing water in drought conditions. This can lead to oxygen depletion and the death of wildlife.

George Nolan, attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. (Photo: John Partipilo)
The Duck River is a “crown jewel,” said George Nolan, attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Marshall County appealed to the water withdrawal limits in an effort meet rising demand from Middle Tennessee’s rapid development. This led to environmental organizations challenging the appeal.

The Nature Conservancy was represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, (SELC) and the Tennessee Wildlife Federation. In March, they reached a settlement agreement to keep the limits in effect.

The Duck RiverIt is the crown jewel in Tennessee Riversystem, and this settlement can help ensure that the waterway and its exceptional wildlife don’t become a casualty due to Middle Tennessee’s explosive growth,A press release by George Nolan, Senior Attorney of the SELC

The settlement will also help TDEC to be more reasonable in limiting water withdrawals from other sensitive waterways to prevent future development.

We plan to continue our work with the Duck River communities to develop regional and collaborative approaches to water supply planning. This will help preserve the river, provide sufficient water for people, avoid potential conflicts, and prevent them from becoming a problem in the future.Mike Butler, chief operating officer, Tennessee Wildlife Federation

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TDEC officials also agreed with research to understand the flow requirements of aquatic life in Duck River, the effect that stream flows have upon wildlife, and any additional protections that may be required for the waterway.

After the study is completed, TDEC will reevaluate Marshall County’s withdrawal restrictions.

 

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