The United States Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for implementing the Clean Water Act, which ruled that the corps has jurisdiction over the placement or removal of materials in streams and wetlands considered “waters of the U.S.” In a previous article, we discussed the basics of permitting. In Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation takes jurisdiction over these water bodies, in conjunction with the USACE. The permitting process is similar, but one distinction in Tennessee is that a qualified hydrologic professional must prepare a hydrologic determination for any stream.
A hydrologic determination will identify whether the creek on your property is considered a stream or a wet weather conveyance, which in turn determines how easy it is to modify that body of water. Wet weather conveyances are considered unregulated features, which means any impacts are automatically permitted without submission of documentation to TDEC. However, any modification to a body of water that is considered a stream requires submission of an Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit application and could require mitigation.
Qualified hydrologic professionals are certified by the University of Tennessee in collaboration with TDEC. In order to become a QHP, wetland scientists and biologists must attend coursework offered by the state to learn standardized procedures for making stream and wet weather conveyance determinations. A bachelor’s degree in biology, geology, ecology, engineering or another related science is required to be considered for QHP certification.
Additionally, five years of experience performing fieldwork and making determinations is necessary for certification. When developing property in Tennessee, it’s a time saver to utilize a local firm that has experience with TDEC and understands the nuanced differences between the USACE and TDEC permitting process. QHPs are presumed to be correct in determinations. Tioga employs two QHPs for this purpose. Give us a call at 901-791-2432 to find out more!