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The Division of Water Supply is the administrative agent for carrying out the provisions of the Tennessee Safe Drinking Water Act, which regulates the quality and quantity of drinking water in the state; the Safe Dams Act, which regulates the construction of non-federal dams; the Water Resources Act; and the Water Withdrawal Registration Act, which requires the registration of water withdrawal; and the Water Wells Act, which regulates the licensing of well drillers and pump setters. The Division’s Ground Water Management Section has been assigned the responsibility for ground water protection strategy development, well-head protection, underground injection of waste, and some pesticide management activity under the Water Quality Control Act. The Environmental Permitting Handbook has more information on the permitting activities of this Division.

The Division is charged with general supervision over construction and operation of public water supplies including design, construction, and operation of public water works systems. Engineering reports and plan documents are submitted to the Division for review and written approval obtained before construction is started. The Division is authorized to adopt and enforce rules and regulations governing the location, design, construction, continuous operation and maintenance of these facilities. It also conducts an enforcement program which requires water suppliers to meet requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act with respect to water quality and information reporting.

The Division is responsible for:

  • The certification program for laboratories and water suppliers desiring to conduct microbiological, organic, inorganic, and turbidity analyses of drinking water samples;
  • Conducting sanitary surveys of water supply systems for compliance and providing technical assistance to public water systems;
  • Conducting examinations of water supply system operators and certifying compliance with performance standards;
  • Conducting training courses for water supply operators for the purpose of assisting them in the understanding of changing regulations and technologies; and
  • Maintaining an accurate database of water supply information

The Safe Dam Program's responsibilities include conducting certification, inspection and approval of dams and reservoir projects. This program is designed to assure public safety from dangers of failures. All non-federal dams are required to have a certificate of approval from the Commissioner to construct, alter, or operate an impoundment.

Non-federal dams may also require other environmental permits. Specifically, non-federal dams may require an ARAP (Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit), Stormwater Runoff Permit, and/or a Corps of Engineers' 404 Permit even though the dam may not be subject to the Safe Dams Act. The permits listed on this web-site are not intended to be an all-inclusive list. If you have any question about whether or not an activity you wish to pursue requires a permit, contact the Environmental Permit Program that you think may have permitting authority over the activity you wish to do.