Water Quality State Operating Permits (SOP)

Who Needs One?

Persons engaged in the operation of a sewage treatment system that does not have a direct discharge to any surface or subsurface waters must obtain a State Operating Permit (SOP) from the Tennessee Division of Water Resources.

The permit is for:

  • Wastewater treatment facilities land applying by spray or drip irrigation
  • Temporarily collecting and holding wastewater
  • Operation of a pump and haul system 
  • Operation of a municipal sewage collection system which discharges into a collection system owned by another entity
  • Mobile car wash or other pressure washing operations

What Information Must I Provide?

Prior to applying for an SOP, a preliminary project discussion must be held with the Division. A request for a preliminary project discussion can be sent to DWR.Engineering@tn.gov.

Applicants must submit the Application for State Operating Permit at least 180 days before starting any new activity or before the permit expires if renewing a permit. Permit applications should be sent to water.permits@tn.gov.

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

Engineering reports, plans and specifications should be submitted for approval HERE

Applicable Forms / Reference Sheets
Water Quality State Operating Permit Application CN-1251
Permit Contact Information Form CN-1090
Wastewater Plans Review Fee Reference Sheet
(Please note that form CN-1457 is no longer being used)
Reference Sheet

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, and the engineering report and preliminary plans have been approved, 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 and final construction documents may be approved. 
  • The entire process normally takes from five to nine months. 
  • Permits are normally valid for five years, except those for pump and haul systems which are generally valid for one year.
  • In the case of a denial, the applicant may appeal to the Tennessee Board of Water Quality, Oil and Gas.

What Fees Are Required?

The permit fee schedule is included in Rule 0400-40-11-.02(2)(a)

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.

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.

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.

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

Applications and information can be obtained from water.permits@tn.gov.

Applicants needing other types of permits can contact their Environmental Field Office for further assistance.

This Page Last Updated: July 12, 2023 at 3:13 PM