July Conservation Conversations: Emerging Water Quality Issues in TN

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We wanted to know what the experts were saying in regards to emerging water quality issues here in Tennessee. And so, for our July Conservation Conversations, we invited Dr. Tom Byl and Dr. Sam Dennis to share their perspectives, given their areas of research and expertise. 

Dr. Dennis, Professor of Soil and Water Quality in the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Tennessee State University (TSU), specializes in research focused on surface water monitoring for pharmaceuticals and personal care products at the watershed scale. He shared with us how the presence due to the improper disposal of these contaminants impacts water quality.

Our second speaker was Dr. Tom Byl, also a professor at TSU and scientist at USGS, wth research specializing in water and the many biogeochemical processes in surface and groundwater systems. He found that water quality issues have a larger source: climate change. 

As our planet’s climate changes due to anthropogenic influences, there are consequences for our water resources and ecosystems. Dr. Byl shared how this is manifest in more frequent flooding events, with 100 year floods now occurring every 20 years. These flooding events are not just happening more often, they’re becoming more severe. 

Solutions to this? A more diverse workforce! Climate solutions need to include everyone. They need to have voices that accurately represent our communities. And often, the voices we are not hearing from are from those most impacted by the disaster events, such as the frequent flooding we’re seeing taking place. 

Watch the entire conversion below to hear more from Dr. Dennis and Dr. Byl and how we can address these emerging water quality issues and find solutions through action.