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Environmental Permits Handbook

Plans Review and Approval for Public Water Systems

* Who Needs One? * What Information Must I Provide?
* How Will My Application be Processed? * What Fees are Required?
* What are My  Responsibilities
After the Permit is Issued?
* What are the Division's Responsibilities
After the Permit is Issued?

Who Needs A Public Water System Approval?

Persons who construct or modify a public water system are required to obtain an approval from the Tennessee Division of Water Supply. Typical applicants include churches, schools, industries, restaurants, camps and subdivisions relying on a water well, spring, or surface source.  Persons who intend to bottle and sell spring water must also obtain approval from the Division.

Public water systems that meet the all of the following criteria are not regulated and, therefore, do not require a public water system approval from the Division of Water Supply:

  • Consists only of distribution and storage facilities, and does not have any collection and treatment facilities
  • Obtains all its water from a public water system, but is not owned or operated by that public water system
  • Does not sell water to any person
  • Is not a carrier that conveys passengers in interstate commerce

Industries using groundwater or surface water for non-potable uses are not required to obtain approval from the DWS; however, some uses may require an Aquatic Resources Alteration Permit.

What Information Must I Provide?

At least 30 days before construction or modification, applicants are required to submit all engineering and construction plans, a completed Plans Review Fee Worksheet Form and the proper fee to the Division of Water Supply. All plan documents must be presented in conformance with accepted engineering practices and the "Community Public Water Systems Design Criteria" manual published by the Division of Water Supply. In addition, all new sources of public drinking water are required to have chemical and biological testing completed before being placed in service. New water sources must be approved by the DWS before an application is processed.

Other Water Permit Forms

Form Description Form # Application Form Form Instructions
Plans Review Fee Worksheet   wordmed.gif (222 bytes) pdfsmall.gif (153 bytes) N/A N/A

How Will My Application Be Processed?

The Division of Water Supply reviews the plans and checks their consistency with the Division's design manual to determine whether the design standards have been met. Plan documents must be reviewed by the DWS within 30 days after receipt. If all standards, rules and regulations have been met, the plans are approved, and an approval letter is sent to the applicant within 30 days of receiving the plans. No public notice is required. The approval expires in one (1) year.

What Fees Are Required?

Fees are required for construction of new facilities, the expansion or modification of existing facilities, plans approval, and / or site evaluation.

  • Well or spring development: $200 each
  • Chemical control plant: $400
  • Disinfection systems
    • gaseous: $300
    • hypochlorinator: $150
  • Filter plant: $750
  • Pump stations: $250 each
  • Tanks: $225 each
  • Standard specification: $100
  • Tank recoating: $50 each
  • Sludge treatment and handling: $150
  • Water lines:
    • 500 feet or less - no fee
    • 501 to 1,000 feet: $50
    • over 1,000 feet: $100 + $0.01 for each foot over 1,000
  • Change orders: $50 each
  • Operation and maintenance manual: $50
  • New water source and site evaluation: $300
  • Miscellaneous (engineering reports, addenda, etc.): $50 each

Annual facility maintenance fee invoices are mailed to each water utility at least 45 days before the due date. Fees vary depending on the type of system and the number of connections.

What Are My Rights And Responsibilities After The Approval Is Issued?

The applicant has the right to proceed with the plans as approved. The approval may be extended or revised with the submittal of a written request and the proper plans and fees. The approval is not transferable, and there are no rights of appeal. However, informal appeals and discussions with the Division of Water Supply are possible.

The applicant has the responsibility to begin construction within one (1) year of the approval. The project engineer or a qualified person must provide continuous inspection during construction to assure that all work is done in accordance with the approved plans and documents. In addition, the applicant must comply with all operational requirements and conditions as stated in the Tennessee Regulations for Public Water Systems and Drinking Water Quality.

What Are The Division's Rights And Responsibilities After The Approval Is Issued?

The Division of Water Supply has the right to exercise general supervision over the construction, operation and maintenance of public water systems throughout the state. The Division has the right to inspect a construction site when deemed necessary. Any person who violates or fails to comply with the rules, regulations or any state or federal water quality standards is subject to a civil penalty  up to $5,000 per day for each day of violation.

The Division of Water Supply is responsible for regulating public water systems in order to ensure the provision of safe drinking water.

Whom Do I Contact For Applications, Assistance And Of Information?

Applicants can obtain applications and information from the Tennessee Division of Water Supply.  New applicants who need more than one permit can contact their regional Environmental Coordinator for further assistance. 

Applicants may refer to the following publications:

  • TDEC Rule Chapter 1200-5-1exittdec3.gif (1060 bytes) Regulations for Public Water Systems and Drinking Water Quality
  • TCA § 68-13-701 exittdec3.gif (1060 bytes)Tennessee Safe Drinking Water Act
  • 40 CFR § 142.10(5): Requirements for Determination of Primary Enforcement Responsibility
Permitting Home

What Environmental Permits Do I Need?

Prudent Site Checks

Permit Application Forms

Standard Operating Procedures

Division of Drinking Water Supply

DWS Standard Operating Procedures

TDEC Rule Chapter 1200-5-1exittdec3.gif (1060 bytes) Regulations for Public Water Systems and Drinking Water Quality

TCA § 68-13-701 exittdec3.gif (1060 bytes)Tennessee Safe Drinking Water Act


Defined Terms

public water systems