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Town quizzes TDEC for ‘rules to the game’


The town of Farragut has a tight deadline to meet in controlling creek pollutants.

But town officials are seeking state expertise to let them know how best they can meet it.

By Jan. 26, 2007, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation officials say, the town must have devised a written plan for monitoring and gradually diminishing quantities of sediment, nutrients and other pollutants entering Turkey Creek and other tributaries that feed into Fort Loudoun Lake.

Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford and members of the town’s Stormwater Advisory Committee, however, told state officials Wednesday, May 17, that mayors still lack access to criteria used by TDEC to measure quality of runoff water leading to those tributaries and the watershed as a whole.

Ford said it’s as if he and other Knox and Blount county mayors are being asked to play a game for which they have yet to be told all the rules.

“T-DEC must provide us guidelines we can all use,” Ford said. He planned to meet May 18 with other mayors to assure them TDEC has offered to help implement the required analytical water quality studies.

John West, assistant manager of the TDEC’s Knoxville field office, told Ford Tuesday, May 17, TDEC has written a Total Maximum Daily Load for siltation and habitat alteration applicable to all Farragut creeks. West said the state requires a 47 percent annual TMDL reduction of sediment load in impaired waters such as Turkey Creek’s.

To achieve reduction, he said, the town must perform comprehensive compliance inspections that meet full terms and conditions of state permits. Inspections, West added, must accompany “timely enforcement actions” for any violators contributing to stream pollution.

West said TDEC soon will provide the town its criteria for its biological monitoring. He was less certain when similar criteria might be available for monitoring presence in stormwater of various nutrients such as phosphates and chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

“We now have stream nutrient criteria developed for the ecoregion,” West said.

Farragut Metropolitan Plann-ing Commission Chairman Robert “Bob” M. Hill, a Stormwater Committee member, said, however, that barring nutrients from local runoff was “virtually beyond our town’s control.

“Any homeowner who wants to fertilize his lawn can apply chemicals to his heart’s content,” Hill said. “We have no way to treat water to eliminate harmful nutrients. So we have to keep them out of the waterways. We can do some of that through education, our public awareness program. But that only works for conscientious people. For others, it’s like water off a duck’s back.”

Ford told West and Hassan Sanaat, a TDEC environmental protection specialist, the town wants to cooperate fully with TDEC to improve stormwater quality, but he asked TDEC’s timely help to speed compliance by providing specific guidelines staff may use in ascertaining when compliance levels are met.

The U.S. Environmental Pro-tection Agency’s Phase II requires National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit coverage for stormwater discharges from small, separate storm sewer systems such as Farragut’s. To obtain permit coverage, the town must implement measures to prevent, reduce and manage stormwater quality and volume. TDEC monitors town compliance for the EPA.

West said Farragut and other Knox and Blount county governments must prepare plans for monitoring, analytically and biologically, “what’s going on in drainage” leading into Fort Loudoun Lake. He said TDEC uses pollution indicators such as fish population and diversity of aquatic organisms, especially those most sensitive to elevated pollution levels.

West also said TDEC, within two weeks, will provide the town its written inspection report, the result of recent formal TDEC inspections.

“We found some issues,” West said. “The program is deficient in some areas, but we will not issue a notice of violation.”

Instead, West said, TDEC will offer regulatory guidance to help the town resolve discrepancies.

“We need to talk about the aquatic buffer [ordinance] you passed last year,” West said, referring to stream banks where water quality is impaired. “If data supports streambeds listed for nutrients, [TDEC] will require Farragut to minimize nutrients” entering streams. “Then a buffer zone becomes a very important issue … The more buffer you have, the better off your program will be in terms of waste load allocation reduction.”

West said TDEC allows the town 60 days to respond to deficiencies and to offer remedial plans.

West lauded the town staff for the thoroughness of its written standards and checklists used in regulating storm runoff from construction sites.

“All your engineering work happens with just a few people,” West said, noting how well staff communicates. “On most of your programs, we want to see more specificity. You need to inventory

your outfalls” where runoff

enters streams.

Town ordinances governing grading permits issued, West said, must include broad authority for the town to control whatever contractors might put on the ground. The town, he added, must also put permitees on notice they must maintain “on site” wastes to minimize potential impact on stormwater

quality.

“We expect to see enforcement of repeat violations,” West told town officials. Enforcement may include civil penalties, he added, as well as lesser $50 fines.

TDEC, West said, also wants Farragut to expand its in-house training program for those who will monitor stormwater quality and enforce regulations de-signed to reduce sedimentation and stream pollution. The town must also include in checklists procedures for reviewing information submitted by the general public on project sites, he added.

“Over all, you have a knowledgeable staff that understands what’s going on in your community,” West said. “And that’s a very impressive part of your program. You have a lot of good things going for you,” including the community’s relative newness and past regulatory efforts.

West told Ford TDEC now has a “cook book” of EPA Region IV requirements.

Ford said Farragut, however, needs data to compile “its own cook book” of procedures to ensure the town’s compliance.

 

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