Water Quality Rules, Reports and Publications

Law Citation Brief Description Contact Person
Tennessee Water Quality Control Act 69-3-101 et seq Law establishing Water Resources program. Identifies responsibilities and extent of authority for Commissioner and the Water Quality Control Board. Establishes concept of clean water goals and water quality planning and assessment. Provides for permitting program for discharges to, or alterations of, water of the state. Vojin Janjic
Tennessee Environmental Protection Fund 68-203-101 Law establishing mechanism for fees to be charged for permits issued by the Division of Water Resources. Emily Urban
Regulation Citation Brief Description Contact Person
Certification of Qualified Hydrologic Professionals 0400-40-17    
Establishes qualifications and process for persons to obtain certification as a hydrologic professional for the purpose of identifying streams and wet weather conveyances. Includes requirements for submitting of hydrologic determination reports. Jimmy Smith
General Rules 0400-40-01
Establishes treatment requirements for point source dischargers. Wade Murphy
Plans Submittal, Control of Construction 0400-40-02 This regulation identifies the requirements for Division approval of plans for construction of sewer lines and treatment plant expansions. Angela Jones
General Water Quality Criteria

Revised 2024
0400-40-03 Establishes numeric and narrative criteria for each of the seven classified uses. Additionally, contains Tennessee’s Antidegradation Policy, which identifies scenarios in which degradation can be allowed in surface waters.
Rich Cochran
Use Classifications for Surface Waters

Revised 2024
0400-40-04 Establishes seven classified uses for surface waters. Identifies a combination of uses for each named or unnamed surface water. Note: classified uses for groundwater are established in a separate document available from the Division of Underground Storage Tanks.
Rich Cochran
  0400-40-05 This regulation establishes treatment requirements for facilities that discharge to effluent-limited streams. Wade Murphy
UIC Regulations
(Division of Water Supply)
0400-45-06 Establishes permitting process for the discharge of materials into ground water by way of wells and/or sinkholes. Brian Ham
Aquatic Resource Alteration Permits (Revised 2019) 0400-40-07 Establishes permitting process for physical alteration of waters of the state. Includes general permits for several activities including utility line crossings. Jimmy Smith Jimmy.R.Smith@tn.gov
Navigable Waters Permit 0400-40-08 Establishes permitting process for physical alteration of navigable waters not regulated by the Corps of Engineers. This regulation is specific to Reelfoot Lake. Robert Baker
Water Well Licensing (Division of Water Supply) 0400-45-09 Establishes licensing process for well drillers. Identifies requirements for well construction. Richard Rogers
NPDES General Permits 0400-40-10 Establishes general NPDES permits for certain activities including discharge of industrial stormwater and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. Wade Murphy
Environmental Protection Fund Fee Rules 0400-40-11 Establishes fee schedules for different types of permits issued by the Division. Wayne Gregory
Pretreatment Requirements 0400-40-14 Establishes responsibilities of State, and local government, industry and the public to implement the National Pretreatment Standards. Adam Bonomo
Biosolids Management 0400-40-15 These rules establish standards, which consist of general requirements, contaminant limits, management practices, and operational standards, for the land application of biosolids generated during the treatment of domestic sewage in a wastewater treatment works. Robert G. O'Dette, M.S., P.E
Public Sewerage Systems 0400-40-16 Establishes supervision requirements during the construction and operation of public sewage systems. Vojin Janjic
Public Water Systems 0400-45-01 Establishes rules for the supervision of public water systems Erich Webber
State Revolving Fund Program 0400-46-01 Establishes criteria and procedures for developing and maintaining a system and list for the financing of wastewater treatment works and wastewater facilities. Felicia Freeman

All rule downloads provided by the Secretary of State


Brief Description

Contact Person

Drip Dispersal Report
June 7, 2024

Performance of Wastewater Systems Utilizing Drip Dispersal in Tennessee

The Division of Water Resources conducted a state-wide survey of all wastewater systems utilizing drip dispersal in January/February of 2024. This report reflects the results of that survey effort.

Drip Investigation Survey Results Dashboard

Britton Dotson

Brad Harris

Landowner's Guide
A Tennessee Landowner's Guide to Streambank Protection and Stabilization

This guide to streambank protection and stabilization is designed to give Tennessee landowners an overview of practical options for streambank protection and to understand the basics about why streams behave the way they do, the best methods for preventing streams from excessively eroding, and the regulations that may apply.
Jimmy Smith

Draft Framework
March 2015

Tennessee's Draft Nutrient Reduction Framework

This document describes the development of the Tennessee Nutrient Reduction Framework, the rationale and the methodology used to accomplish long-term nutrient reduction in Tennessee waters.

Karina Bynum

Advisories in Tennessee
June 2022

Bacteriological and Fishing Advisories in Tennessee

List of streams and reservoirs where fish consumption or human contact advisories have been issued.

Debbie Arnwine

Mitigation Guidelines
May 20, 2019

Stream Mitigation Guidelines
This document provides general guidance and discussion for compensatory mitigation of permanent impacts to streams.

Jimmy Smith

December 2021

Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) for 106 Monitoring in the Division of Water Resources

This document describes monitoring, analyses, quality control, and assessment procedures used by the Division of Water Resources to develop TMDLs, 305(b) and 303(d) assessments.

Natalie Moore

Program Plan
July 2023

Surface Water Monitoring and Assessment Program Plan

The Division of Water Resources (DWR) has a comprehensive monitoring program that serves its water quality management needs and addresses all the state's surface waters including streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and wetlands. The report details the monitoring program plan, excluding inspection information.  

FY 2023 / 2024

Debbie Arnwine

FY22/23 FY21/22 FY20/21 FY19/20 FY18/19 FY17/18 FY16/17 FY15/16 FY14/15
December 2019

Tennessee's Continuing Planning Process (CPP)

Tennessee's CPP document has been compiled to demonstrate compliance with the state's obligation under Section 303(e) of the Clean Water Act and the Environmental Protection Agency's implementing regulations, 40 C.F.R § 130.5.  The CPP, together with its companion document, the Tennessee Water Quality Management Plan, provides a comprehensive overview of the Division structure and how it works to fulfill its mission to protect and enhance the state's water resources. 

Tennessee Water Quality Management Plan (WQMP)

(Dec 2019: The CPP and WQMP have been submitted to EPA for review)

Regan McGahen
Wetland Program Plan
May 2019

TN Wetland Program Plan 2019-2025

The Tennessee Wetland Program Plan is a visioning document designed to outline program goals and objectives the state of Tennessee would like to accomplish in the next six years.

Jimmy R. Smith

Legislative Report
February 2022

Protection of Potable Water Supplies in Tennessee Watersheds

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) prepared this report to fulfill the requirements of the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act, T.C.A. 69-3-107(24) as amended in 2006. This report presents a summary of some of the activities within the Division of Water Resources that TDEC uses in protecting water quality. 

Anna Sartors


Brief Description

Contact Person

2011-13 Tennessee Coalfields Fish Tissue and Water Quality Study

December 2014

Report of a study conducted by the Division of Water Resources conducted to evaluate the potential bioaccumulation of metals in native game fish in streams draining Tennessee Coalfields.

Debbie Arnwine

Exceptional Tennessee Waters & Outstanding National Resource Waters

The Division of Water Resources has compiled a partial list of exceptional Tennessee waters based on characteristics set forth in the regulation by the Tennessee Water Quality Control Board.

Debbie Arnwine

EPA Approved Lists of Impaired and Threatened Waters

April 2022

As required by Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, this is a compilation of the lakes, rivers, and streams in Tennessee that fail to meet one or more water quality standards, including pollutant information and TMDL prioritization.

2024 Final List 

EPA Approval Letter (April 24, 2024)

Rich Cochran
1992 2002 2010 2020
1996 2006 2012 2022
1998 2008 2014  

Tennessee's Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology (CALM)

November 2023

The CALM is a policy document explaining to agency water quality assessment staff how the criteria in Rule 0400-40-.03 are applied to ambient data.  As stated in the rule, the condition of impairment is created when criteria violations are of a magnitude, frequency, and duration to cause loss of classified use.  The CALM provides parameter-specific advice on how staff should make this determination of loss of use and what additional factors should be considered.  While this is designed for Division assessment staff, the public and regulated community can gain insight into how this process works by reviewing this document. 

Although the Environmental Protection Agency does not have an approval/disapproval role in the development of this document, they provided guidance and participated in the review process.

Rich Cochran

305(b) Reports

The 305(b) Report summarizes the general water quality of surface waters in Tennessee. The report contains information about water quality, the assessment process, use support, causes, and sources of pollution, and waterbodies posted due to human health risks.

2022 Tennessee's Clean Water Act Monitoring & Assessment Report StoryMap

2020      2014      2012    2010

 2008     2006     2004       2002


Quality Systems Standard Operating Procedure (QSSOP) for Chemical and Bacteriological Sampling of Surface Water

January 2022

This document describes procedures for collecting chemical and bacteriological samples of surface waters as well as chain-of-custody and quality control approved by the Division of Water Resources. Protocols are also described for the specifications and accurate use of water-quality probes, sampling equipment, and flow meters.


TDEC E. coli and Field Water Parameter Report - a Microsoft Excel workbook for reporting water parameters and E. coli results following the QSSOP for Chemical and Bacteriological Sampling of Surface Waters to TDEC|DWR. See protocols C, D, E, J, and M for specific instructions on sample collection, field water parameter readings, and E. coli analyses. Completed workbooks are to be submitted to tdec.watershedplanning@tn.gov. (rev. 12/2023)

Quality System Standard Operating Procedure for Macroinvertebrate Stream Surveys

December 2021

This document describes procedures for performing two types of macroinvertebrate surveys approved by the Division of Water Resources for assessing the biological integrity of streams. The entire procedure is described including protocols for sample collection, habitat assessment, sample analysis, data reduction, and reporting.


Field Stream Survey and Habitat Sheets- a Microsoft Excel workbook to capture and report field conditions and observations, including water parameters, photos, and habitat assessments as required in TDEC Macroinvertebrate QSSOP protocols C, D, and E. These may be used in place of the paper worksheets found in Appendix B and is the preferred electronic reporting format.  Completed workbooks are to be submitted to tdec.watershedplanning@tn.gov. (Rev. 08/22)
Macroinvertebrate Taxa Report -a Microsoft Excel worksheet to report taxa subsampled and identified in accordance with TDEC Macroinvertebrate QSSOP Protocols I and J which meets electronic reporting requirements for protocol L Semi-quantitative Reports ( b. Biological Consultant Reports).  Completed worksheets are to be submitted to tdec.watershedplanning@tn.gov. (Rev. 08/22)

Quality System Standard Operating Procedure for Diatom Stream Surveys

October 2023

This document is specific to the Division of Water Resources and is intended to assist the division in maintaining its quality control and quality assurance processes. It provides specific operational direction for the division’s Quality Assurance Project Plan for Diatom Stream Surveys.

Debbie Arnwine

2007-2008 Probabilistic Monitoring of Wadeable Streams in Tennessee

A probabilistically-based survey of wadeable streams in Tennessee. A series of 6 reports to convey the results of the study.

VOLUME 2: DESIGN AND STREAM CHARACTERIZATION (February 2009) (Design and implementation of the project. This volume describes the site selection process. Information on drainage area, ecoregion, watersheds, and land use is discussed to determine the representativeness of the subsample to the entire population of Tennessee streams. Also provides information on sample collection, analyses, and quality assurance.

VOLUME 3: MACROINVERTIBRATE AND HABITAT (February 2009) (Details on macroinvertebrate populations and habitat quality.)

VOLUME 4: WATER CHEMISTRY (March 2009) (Details on field measurements and chemical data.)

VOLUME 5: PATHOGENS (February 2009) (Details on bacteriological data using the indicator organism E. coli.)

VOLUME 6 PERIPHYTON (June 2010) (Details on periphyton)


Debbie Arnwine

Probabilistic Monitoring of Streams Below Small Impoundments in Tennessee

September 2006

This report describes the results of a probabilistic study of 75 streams below small impoundments and the effects of the impoundments on aquatic life, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, pH, iron, manganese, habitat, flow, and periphyton density.

Debbie Arnwine

Probabilistic Monitoring in the Inner Nashville Basin with Emphasis on Nutrient and Macroinvertebrate Relationships 

December 2003

This report describes the results of a probabilistic study conducted in the Inner Nashville Basin to determine the relationship between the biological communities and nutrient levels.

Debbie Arnwine

Mercury Air Deposition and Selenium Levels in Tennessee Fish and Surface Water

December 2010

This document reports the results from a study that was designed to test whether predicted mercury air deposition levels using the REMSAD model was correlated to mercury concentrations in fish tissue and water samples. Selenium concentrations were also analyzed in the fish tissue and water samples.

Debbie Arnwine

Mercury Levels in Tennessee Fish

April 2007

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation compiled tissue data from multiple agencies in order to analyze mercury concentrations in fish from Tennessee's rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and streams. This analysis led to the issuance of new and updated mercury advisories in April 2007.

Debbie Arnwine

Threatened and Endangered Species List

April 2009

This lists the known threatened and endangered species including aquatic and semi-aquatic plants and aquatic animals in Tennessee. The list is subject to revision.

Debbie Arnwine

Regional Characterization of Streams in Tennessee with Emphasis on Diurnal Dissolved Oxygen, Nutrients, Habitat, Geomorphology, and Macroinvertebrates

September 2005

This report describes a 2004 statewide study, which is a continuation of a 2002 study of regional differences in diurnal dissolved oxygen patterns in wadeable streams. Other goals of this study were to characterize streams based on geomorphology, periphyton, and nutrients and describe streams that cross ecoregions in west Tennessee.

Debbie Arnwine

Tennessee's Plan for Nutrient Criteria Development

September 2007 Revision 

September 2019 Revision

Describes the approach the Division of Water Resources will use to identify and adopt additional water quality standards for nutrient-related parameters.

Debbie Arnwine

The Results of Fish Tissue Monitoring in Tennessee: 1992 – 1997. 

Contains a general description of the fish tissue monitoring program and contains the result of contaminate monitoring for a five-year period.

Debbie Arnwine

Development of Regionally-Based pH Criteria for Wadeable Streams 

April 2004

This document describes a statewide study of regional differences in the effect pH has on the aquatic communities in wadeable streams and rivers. These results will form the basis of recommendations for regional pH criteria to be formalized in the General Water Quality Criteria.

Debbie Arnwine

Evaluation of Regional Dissolved Oxygen Patterns of Wadeable Streams in Tennessee Based on Diurnal and Daytime Monitoring

January 2003

This report describes a statewide study of regional differences in both diurnal and daylight dissolved oxygen patterns in wadeable streams. Study results will help guide fish and aquatic life criteria decisions for the 2002 triennial review of water quality standards.

Debbie Arnwine

Dioxin Levels in Pigeon River Fish 1996-2002

October 2002

This report describes the improvement in water quality that has resulted in the removal of the fish tissue advisory for the Tennessee portion of the Pigeon River.

Debbie Arnwine

Comparison of Nutrient Levels, Periphyton Densities and Diurnal Dissolved Oxygen Patterns in Impaired and Reference Quality Streams in Tennessee 

December 2003

This document compares algal densities and nutrient levels to diurnal DO patterns in reference and impaired streams in 16 subecoregions.

Debbie Arnwine

Habitat Quality of Least-Impacted Streams in Tennessee 

November 2001

This report describes the habitat quality of ecoregion reference streams. Seasonal variability, stream size, and ecoregion expectations are discussed. Reference data is compared to historic habitat assessments. Guidelines for maintaining protective habitats in each of Tennessee's 25 ecological subregions are provided. The report includes a question and answer section on habitat guidance implementation.

Debbie Arnwine

Development of Regionally-Based Numeric Interpretations of Tennessee's Narrative Biological Integrity Criterion 

October 2001

This report contains guidance for the interpretation of existing narrative biological criteria based on regional reference data. The report details macroinvertebrate monitoring at reference streams. The metric selection and assessment guidelines are discussed. A description of how ecoregions were grouped into bioregions for assessment purposes is included. The seasonal variability of macroinvertebrate populations is discussed. Numeric biocriteria based on a multi-metric index is proposed and compared to historic targeted and probabilistic monitoring. The report contains a question and answers section on biocriteria implementation.

Debbie Arnwine

Development of Regionally-Based Interpretations of Tennessee's Narrative Nutrient Criterion.  
August 2001

This report contains guidance for the interpretation of existing narrative nutrient criteria based on regional reference data. The report summarizes reference nutrient data and describes how nitrate+nitrite and total phosphorus goals were developed. A comparison of reference data to historic targeted and probabilistic monitoring sites is included. Relationships between nutrient levels and macroinvertebrate populations are explored. The report contains a question and answer section on nutrient criteria implementation.

Debbie Arnwine

Tennessee Ecoregion Project 1994-1999.

This report contains a detailed description of Tennessee's ecoregion delineation and reference stream monitoring project. The ecoregion report describes how subregions were defined and how reference streams were selected. The report includes descriptions of macroinvertebrate, bacteriological, and chemical monitoring as well as habitat assessment. Summaries of all data are provided.

Debbie Arnwine

Revision of Tennessee's Level IV Ecoregions

December 2007

Update of Tennessee Ecoregions first published in 2000. Six additional Level IV ecoregions were added in 2007 and names of four ecoregions were revised.  Debbie Arnwine


Brief Description


Pretreatment Model Sewer Use Ordinance

View in PDF format

Samantha O'Neil

Design Criteria for Sewage Works

Guidance for municipalities and industries for the design of sewage systems and wastewater treatment plants.

Plans Review and Approval for Sewage Works Construction Plans and Documents

Design Criteria Table of Contents

Design Criteria Chapter 1  - General Engineering Requirements

Wastewater Plans Review Fee Worksheet (CN-1457)

Design Criteria Chapter 2 - Collection Systems

Design Criteria Chapter 3 - Laboratory, Personnel, Maintenance Facilities and Safety Design

Design Criteria Chapter 4 - Preliminary and Pretreatment Facilities

Design Criteria Chapter 5 - Clarifiers

Design Criteria Chapter 6 - Fixed Film Reactors

Design Criteria Chapter 7 - Activated Sludge (Appendix 7-A)

Design Criteria Chapter 8 - Nitrification

Design Criteria Chapter 9 - Ponds and Aerated Lagoons

Design Criteria Chapter 10 - Disinfection

Design Criteria Chapter 11 - Tertiary Treatment / Advanced Wastewater Treatment

Design Criteria Chapter 12 - Sludge Processing and Disposal

Design Criteria Chapter 13 - Plant Flow Measurement and Sampling

Design Criteria Chapter 14 - Instrumentation, Control and Electrical Systems

Design Criteria Chapter 15 - Small Alternative Wastewater Systems

Design Criteria Chapter 16 - Design Guidelines for Wastewater Treatment Systems Using Spray Irrigation

Design Criteria Chapter 17 - Design Guidelines for Wastewater Dispersal Using Drip Irrigation

Robert G. O'Dette, M.S., P.E

Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook

A guide for protection of state waters through the use of best management practices during land disturbing activities.

Karina Bynum

TN Oil and Grease Control Guidance Document

Guidance for municipalities in creating regulations and enforcement plans dealing with oil and grease on a local level.

Guidance Document Cover Page (78.6KB)
Guidance Document (528KB)
Appendices (512KB)

Jennifer Peters Dodd

Guidance for Making Hydrologic Determinations

April 2020

This document provides guidance and discussion for making hydrologic determinations of the jurisdictional status of wet weather conveyances and streams.

(Responses to comments received on the revised HD Guidance document)

Jonathon Burr

This Page Last Updated: June 7, 2024 at 1:36 PM