Interbasin Law Will Protect State from Water Wars

KNOXVILLE — The water resources bill Gov. Don Sundquist has signed in Chattanooga helps protect the state from future water wars, a University of Tennessee researcher who helped develop the legislation said Thursday.

Dr. David Feldman, a water policy analyst with UT’s Energy, Environment and Resources Center, praised the governor and the Legislature for passing the Interbasin Water Transfer Act.

“This law provides a framework to protect Tennessee’s streams as the competition for water resources in the Southeast grows over the next quarter century,” Feldman said. “It’s a very forward-looking bill.”

Feldman, a consultant for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation during drafting and passage of the legislation, prepared a report for TDEC on state laws and court decisions. The report recommends enhanced legal protection for state water resources.

He also studied interstate legal issues involving the Memphis sand aquifer and the diversion of water from the Tennessee River at Chattanooga for use by Atlanta.

The Interbasin Water Transfer Act requires public notification and a state permit before water from a Tennessee stream can be diverted into another river basin.

Feldman said that Rep. Jere Hargrove, D-Cookeville, called it “the most significant legislation passed in this session of the General Assembly.”

UT’s Energy, Environment, and Resources Center conducts multidisciplinary research that seeks solutions to problems related to energy, environmental resources, technology and economic development.

Report available at http://eerc.ra.utk.edu/divisions/wrrc/water_supply/default.html