Sandra Kurtz works to Improve Water Quality in Chattanooga

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

Sandra Kurtz has a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and 36 years of experience working in the Environmental and Educational fields.

Kurtz works with a citizen’s group she helped to found in 1994 called the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway Alliance to address growing concerns about water quality along this 435 miles of waterway.

Kurtz reports that all of the creeks in Chattanooga are on the State 303(d) List.      Tennessee has “an abundance of lakes and streams,” which are classified as to whether they meet fishing and swimming standards, according to Tennessee.gov newsroom:

Tennessee’s classified uses include designations to protect fish and other aquatic life; to maintain streams for recreational uses, such as swimming, wading and boating; to minimize human health risks from pollutants; and to provide for public water supplies.

The site explains the 303(d) designation:

The draft 303(d) List compiles all the waters known by the state to violate one or more water quality standards in a single document. Once identified, these streams and lakes are prioritized for specialized studies called total maximum daily loads. TMDLs identify the sources of pollutants and propose strategies to restore bodies of water through various pollutant controls.

Sandra Kurtz asserts that sediment buildup in lakes and streams is one of the main causes of 303(d) impairment, along with certain agricultural practices and other pathogens which end up in these slow-moving bodies of water.

The U.S. Geological Survey website’s page called “Impervious Surfaces and Urban Flooding”:

Impervious surfaces can have an effect on local streams, both in water quality and streamflow and flooding characteristics. The picture to the right illustrates how water-quality problems can occur from development. Sediment-laden water from a tributary where construction is taking place is shown entering the Chattahoochee River, just west of Atlanta.

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