There are a lot clean water success stories in Tennessee to celebrate. I invite you to click on the boxes below to learn about some of those stories. Before you do that, I want to share with you how it happens.
It all begins with a scientific and data-based understanding of Tennessee's water resources and where our efforts can make the most impact. To help us develop this understanding, we strategically monitor water quality downstream of industrial discharges, mine sites, or large municipalities, for example.
These results help guide our permitting responsibilities so we can write clear, concise permits for regulated activities under the existing laws and rules. We are then able to equip the regulated community with the knowledge they need to comply, through education and inspections. Our strategy's effectiveness is easy to understand, considering it works to prevent pollution and mitigate the harmful effects of cumulative pollution. Other states have adopted similar strategies.
But our success stories in water quality could not happen if we confine our work to the regulatory process.
Sustainable advances in water quality protection require investment in Tennessee's infrastructure, which is why our Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan program has funded $740 million in water and wastewater infrastructure projects in approximately 150 communities across Tennessee during this administration.
Advancing land conservation will be a crucial element to protecting clean water now and in the future. This is why we have conserved 24,322 acres of land in the past five years.
We have trained more than 800 drinking water operators across the state on new requirements to protect the quality of your drinking water. We have taught wastewater treatment plant operators statewide how to optimize their processes to remove nutrients and lessen the impact of discharges from their plants.
We also have to make sure we address our future workforce needs in the area of water quality, which is why we developed an innovative partnership with Middle Tennessee State University to provide operators with advanced training and degree programs.
Our department's hard work has taken me from Jackson to Whites Creek in Nashville, from Baxter and Athens to Sevierville, to mark significant progress on our rivers and streams. Children from Baxter Elementary are now able to play in Mine Lick Creek as it runs by their school. Nashvillians can canoe on urban Whites Creek through the heart of the city. These are just a few reminders of how this work materializes.
I believe in our strategy and efforts to preserve and protect clean water. Tennessee has a responsive and transparent regulatory system focused on the long-term health of our environment in which our citizens should be confident, and a staff whose work we should all be proud of.