Description of Initiative:
The Tennessee Healthy Watershed Initiative (THWI) is a collaboration of federal, state, and nonprofit organizations committed to maintaining and improving water resources in Tennessee watersheds. It was launched in August 2011 under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) executed by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Tennessee Valley Authority, Tennessee Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and West Tennessee River Basin Authority.
Increasing demands on state water resources also mean increasing demands on agencies that regulate and protect water. The initiative seeks to improve the state’s collective approach to managing water resources in a time of level or declining agency resources. By pooling individual agency strengths and abilities, the unique initiative aims to set a new standard for protecting water resources.
Results to Date:
The THWI is uniquely positioned to work toward healthy waters throughout the state of Tennessee by implementing a three-year strategic plan. It has provided a forum for communication, collaboration, and thoughtful planning among a broad partnership of agencies and interests. It has implemented protection and improvement efforts designed to ensure the continued health of Tennessee’s waters. The initiative has provided innovative leadership and has worked toward achieving the necessary funding to achieve our vision of meeting the challenges facing our watersheds.
Two carefully selected “kickoff’ projects had considerable results. First, the projects led to the establishment of an education and demonstration center as well as a research site at the James E. Ward Agriculture Center in Wilson County, Tennessee. The center improves water quality by implementing innovative green infrastructure BMPs. The projects also resulted in the restoration of a channeled stream to a meandering stream with bottomland hardwood restoration, a live stake nursery, and wetland enhancement in Jackson, Tennessee. Since November 2012, THWI has awarded approximately $1,391,400 for 16 watershed improvement and protection projects spread across the state, achieving more than $1,327,430 in leveraging funds.
Tennessee has recently been selected by the EPA Healthy Watershed Initiative to become the fourth state to have a statewide assessment completed by the U.S. EPA and its contractors. The THWI has gathered more than 20 partners from varying state, federal, and non-governmental organizations to be involved. This group has completed its first meeting and is well on its way to developing a successful tool that will help prioritize protection and improvement of Tennessee’s waters.
The Nature Conservancy