NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 16, 2018) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District joined forces with a state agency this week to begin the transition and implementation of a new stream assessment tool to support permit evaluations.
During the course of three days, the Corps and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation trained private consultants on the use of a new stream assessment tool called the Tennessee Stream Quantification Tool.
The tool is a quantitative assessment methodology that can be used to evaluate changes in stream functions resulting from permanent impacts or compensatory mitigation. The Tennessee Stream Quantification Tool also helps with the communication of goals and objectives between customers, consultants, and agencies.
TDEC spearheaded the tool’s development when the agency received the Wetland Program Development Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Vena Jones, TDEC’s environmental consultant within the Division of Water Resources, said a goal the agency had in place for the grant involved updating a decades-old process document, and publishing field forms for all stakeholders and agencies to have for online access.
“We wanted to regionalize and modify the framework of the stream quantification tool to make the program Tennessee specific so all the stakeholders involved will use the same method to assess a stream’s function, hopefully making the process more streamlined and quicker,” Jones said.
The grant also requires TDEC to offer training for members of the public to attend, which gave an opportunity for the Nashville District’s Regulatory Division to assist with the training.
“The stream assessment tool will provide the public with a predictable and transparent assessment tool that is rooted in sound science,” said Joshua Frost, chief of Technical Services Branch in the Nashville District’s Regulatory Division.
Will Harmon, founder of Stream Mechanics, the contracted consulting firm that oversaw the development of Tennessee’s Stream Quantification Tool, said one long-term advantage to using the same language and methodology is it removes the potential for a project to go a different direction due to employee turnover that may take place during the life of a mitigation project.
The latter part of the third day supervisors with TDEC and the Nashville District discussed how the transition to the stream quantification tool will occur moving forward. Staff members with the regulatory branch who attended the three-day training will be tasked to train fellow regulators on how to apply and use the new assessing tool.
The stream quantification tool and supporting documents can be obtained by anyone on TDEC’s website under Aquatic Resource Alteration Permits and will soon be available on the Nashville District’s Regulatory webpage. Having this material available will allow the process to be transparent to all entities and individuals involved.
“This partnership was a fantastic opportunity for the Corps to work in concert with Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. This has been an exceptional opportunity for Federal and state agencies to work together to produce a product that can be used by permit applicants to satisfy both state and federal requirements,” Frost said.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)