The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy are extending a 2008 Memorandum of Understanding to protect and restore the Clinch and Powell rivers in Tennessee and Virginia.
With this extension, the agencies responsible for administering the Clean Water Act and Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, as well as corresponding state laws in Tennessee and Virginia, will continue working together to restore the watershed over the next 10 years through the Clinch-Powell Clean Rivers Initiative.
The Clinch-Powell watershed is an important area for biodiversity in North America and is home to 20 endangered freshwater mussel species. In an EPA news release, Clinch-Powell Clean Rivers Initiative Science Team Chair Braven Beaty said that the team’s research has shown “that habitat conditions in the rivers are fairly good, but that rare freshwater mussels are under chronic stress from relatively low-concentrations of metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.”
The agencies included in the initiative aim to reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and toxic pollution going to the rivers by working with local farmers to implement best management practices. They also plan to reduce stormwater runoff, improve local wastewater management and restore land and water that has been impacted by coal mining with the Abandoned Mine Land Fund. — By Sara Crouch