Water Quality Training

Certification of Qualified Hydrologic Professionals and Standard Operating Procedures for Hydrologic Determinations

(Stream/Wet Weather Conveyance Determinations)

With the passage of Public Chapter Number 464, the Tennessee General Assembly amended the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act of 1977 to codify the definition of a wet weather conveyance and what regulatory restrictions may be placed on these features, direct the department to develop new rules and guidance on how to determine the regulatory status of watercourses in Tennessee, and to establish qualifications for persons who conduct hydrologic determinations. In this context, a hydrologic determination is the classification of a linear watercourse as either a stream or a wet weather conveyance. Determination of the jurisdictional status of waters of the state is a necessary step in several of the department’s regulatory programs, including Aquatic Resource Alteration permitting, NPDES Construction Stormwater Permit requirements, and Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) local ordinances.

As required by the legislation, the division has promulgated Chapter 0400-40-17,  rules to implement a certification program for Qualified Hydrologic Professionals (QHPs). The QHP certification program is currently facilitated through a partnership with the University of Tennessee’s Water Resources Research Center. Persons interested in pursuing QHP certification, or obtaining a list and contact information of certified QHPs should visit TNHDT.org.

The department has also promulgated another section of rules, Chapter 0400-40-03,  establishing a standard operating procedure for making hydrologic determinations. Based upon these rules, the division has also developed a technical manual, the “Guidance for Making Hydrologic Determinations”, which augments the procedures contained in the rule with specific examples, a Hydrologic Determination Field Data Sheet, and instructions for conducting field investigations, and evaluation of the various indicators involved in making a hydrologic determination. All persons, including division personnel, must follow the procedures contained in the rule and the Guidance document for making valid hydrologic determinations of waters the state of Tennessee.

To facilitate accurate and consistent implementation of the rules and Guidance, a training course for conducting hydrologic determinations is now being offered, usually two or three times annually based upon demand.

Successful completion of the training course is one of the requirements for certification as a Qualified Hydrologic Professional. Upon successful completion of the training course, a person may be designated as a QHP-In Training if they have not yet fulfilled the necessary education or professional experience requirements.  Availability of training is subject to payment of a fee and may be limited by available space in the classes.

Hydrologic determinations may be conducted by persons who have successfully completed the training course (certified QHPs, or QHP-ITs); however, the "presumption of correctness" provision contained in Rule 0400-40-17 for a wet weather conveyance determination will only apply to reports submitted by fully certified QHPs who assert this provision in writing. Currently it is the division’s policy to require submittal of a hydrologic determination report for review from a successfully trained individual (QHP or QHP-IT), when the determination of the jurisdictional status of water features on site must be established for permitting purposes. The exception to this policy is for activities associated with private farms or residences, in which case division personnel will perform this service for the individual upon request. Hydrological Determination reports should be submitted to the local TDEC Environmental Field Office for review.

Division of Water Resources Hydrologic Determinations MapViewer