Legislative and Regulatory Policy

Protecting Southern Waters

The Importance of the Clean Water Act

Politicians in Washington are trying to dismantle the Clean Water Act, which has kept our nation’s waters clean for nearly 50 years. Without it, polluted waters would threaten Tennessee’s local economies, communities, and way of life.

If the administration’s proposal becomes law, drinking water sources for over 32 million people – 7 out of 10 Southerners – will be at risk. 

Great Beer Needs Clean Water! Harpeth Conservancy and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) co-hosted 2 events in April 2019 to inform our community on the proposed rollbacks of the Clean Water Act from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The final version of the Repeal Rule has been officially published in the federal register, you can find the final version here. This rule will go into in less than 60 days and officially rescinds the 2015 Clean Water Rule, reverting standards dating back to 1986 rule (as limited by more recent guidance).

SELC has filed a challenge in Federal District Court in Charleston, SC on behalf of American Rivers, Charleston Waterkeeper, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Clean Water Action, Coastal Conservation League, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Rappahannock, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, NC Coastal Federation, and NC Wildlife Federation.  To view SELC’s press release, click here.

Tennessee is at Risk

This proposal threatens to remove protections from drinking water sources for 3 of every 4 Tennesseans.

Allowing open dumping into upstream waters spells trouble for everyone downstream. The best way to protect clean water is to stop harmful pollution at its source before it reaches our waterways.

Under the proposal by the administration and supported by industrial polluters, more than 32,000 miles of streams that flow into Tennessee’s rivers and lakes would be at risk for pollution if the Clean Water Act is cut as the administration suggests.

Hundreds of thousands of acres of wetlands in Tennessee that filter pollution and provide flood protection and essential wildlife habitat are at risk.

Tennessee's Communities are Interconnected with Waterways

Economic Impacts for Tennessee

Protecting small streams and wetlands supports fish and wildlife, and Tennessee’s vibrant recreational industry.

  • More than 2.9 million people participated in wildlife-related recreational activities in Tennessee.
  • Tourism is Tennessee’s 2nd-largest industry. Tennessee brought in more than $1 million from the economic impact of tourism in 2016.

Clean Water is Big Business for Waters in Tennessee


An assault on clean water threatens Tennessee.