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CWEET Awarded Grant to Begin Stream Monitoring on the Nolichucky River

CWEET is proud to announce that we have been awarded a grant by Patagonia to start a stream monitoring project on the Nolichucky River. We are currently accepting applications for volunteers interested in committing to a year-long project. Applications can be found by clicking here.

A recent article written about CWEET’s new grant and stream project:


Clean Water Expected in East Tennessee, started by raft guides in response to pollution on the Pigeon River, has received its first grant to start a stream monitoring project on the neighboring Nolichucky River. The grant was awarded by Patagonia, an outdoor gear and clothing company based in California. Clean Water Expected in East TN (CWEET), pronounced “sweet”, requested grant funding from Patagonia after the controversial wastewater discharge permit was issued for US Nitrogen, a manufacturer of liquid ammonium nitrate, a substance used in the production of explosives.

Although US Nitrogen held its groundbreaking ceremony in February of 2012, the company has encountered multiple setbacks as citizens from Greene, Cocke, and Hamblen Counties have rallied to stop the construction of what some residents are calling a “pollution” pipeline. The controversial pipeline will allow for withdrawals of fresh water from the Nolichucky to be returned back to the river polluted with state-accepted levels of nitrogen, ammonia, and nitric acid. CWEET is concerned about already existing levels of Nitrogen in the Nolichucky River from nearby agriculture and believes that US Nitrogen’s effluent may add consequences for endangered mussels and biological life downstream of the pipe.

According to CWEET’s community organizer Amelia Taylor, “US Nitrogen is owned by Austin Powder, a company that contracts to literally blow up mountains using an environmentally devastating coal mining practice called mountaintop removal. This company is not concerned about the well-being of the Nolichucky River or the residents along its shores; they are concerned about one thing, their profit margin.”

CWEET is currently seeking a limited number of volunteers to commit to one years participation in the water quality monitoring project. Volunteers will be trained to conduct a biological index of the river’s macroinvertebrate population and to properly capture chemical samples. The training will be led by Asheville, NC’s Environmental Quality Institute, Stream Monitoring Information Exchange, which has been gathering data on various rivers and streams in the region for the last 10 years.

CWEET’s director, Deborah Bahr, believes that this project highlights the need nationwide for independent water quality monitoring as most industries are permitted to conduct their own monitoring and reporting.

Deborah said, “Recent disasters such as the coal ash spills in North Carolina and Tennessee rivers and the Elk River chemical spill in West Virginia underline the degradation of our nation’s waters by corporate profit. What’s to say that US Nitrogen won’t have an accident of the same caliber? Almost every stream in the United States is polluted before it leaves the county where its headwaters begin, and that is a shame. What kind of future are we leaving our grandchildren? We need to work together to stop this.”

CWEET will be accepting applications until March 15 for volunteers interested in participating in the stream monitoring project. The application can be found on their website at and more information can be obtained by calling the non-profit at 865 453 8535.

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