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TDEC COVID-19 Response and Resources

Water Quality State Operation Permit

Who Needs One?

Persons engaged in the operation of a sewage treatment system, i.e., package plant; industrial waste or other waste treatment systems that do not have a direct discharge to any surface or subsurface waters must obtain a State Operation Permit (SOP) from the Tennessee Division of Water Resources. The permit is for anyone generating wastewater who does not have a direct discharge, but rather is land applying by spray, or drip irrigation, or collecting and temporarily holding it . The discharge of treated municipal and industrial wastewater to land and the operation of a pump and haul system require a permit. In addition, the operation of a municipal sewage collection system which discharges into a collection system owned by another entity may require a permit. Also mobile car wash or other pressure washing operations require a permit.

What Information Must I Provide?

Applicants must submit the Application for State Operation Permit at least 180 days before starting any new activity or before the permit expires if renewing a permit. The form requires:

  • Name and address of the applicant, contact person,and facility
  • Name and distance to the nearest stream
  • Previous state and federal water quality permits
  • Information regarding the industry's products and/or processes
  • A description of the processes from which wastewater is discharged
  • Detailed information regarding the waste stream entering the treatment system; the source of water supply, the treatment system, sludge disposal and other general information as required

Applicants also may be required to submit engineering reports, plans and specifications. Contact the Division of Water Resources for the applicable items.

Form Description Form Number  
Water Quality State Operation Permit Application CN-1251  
Permit Contact Information Form CN-1090  

How Will My Application Be Processed?

Upon receipt of the required items, the Division conducts a review of the material, and the applicant is notified of any deficiencies. When all the deficiencies have been corrected, a draft permit is generated, and a public notice is issued. The draft permit is reviewed by the applicant and Division of Water Resources field staff. The public has an opportunity to review the permit. Based on public response, a public hearing may be held. After considering public comments and a final review, the permit may be issued. The entire process normally takes from five (5) to nine (9) months. Permits are normally valid for five (5) years, except those for pump and haul systems which are generally valid for one (1) year.

What Fees Are Required?

Fee schedule can be seen on the Secretary of State's Web site.

What Are My Rights And Responsibilities After The Permit Is Approved?

The applicant has the right to proceed with the approved activities in accordance with the permit conditions and requirements. In the case of a denial, the applicant may appeal to the Tennessee Board of Water Quality, Oil and Gas. The permit is transferable upon the approval of both parties and the Division of Water Resources. Minor modifications to the permit can be changed administratively.

The applicant is responsible for operating within the permit boundaries. General requirements for permit holders include, but are not limited to, monitoring, recordkeeping, reporting and inspections.

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

The Tennessee Division of Water Resources has the right to inspect a facility when deemed necessary. In addition, the Division has the right to revoke or suspend any permit for violation of permit conditions or any other provisions of the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act and other water pollution control rules.

The Division of Water Resources is responsible for regulating any activity which involves a potential discharge in order to protect the waters from pollution and to maintain the highest possible standards in water quality.

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

Applications and information can be obtained from the Tennessee Division of Water Resources. New applicants who need more than one permit can contact their Environmental Field Office for further assistance. Biosolids contact: Robert G. O'dette M.S., P.E.,, 615-253-5319.

Applicants may refer to the following publications: