TN water quality1

Every day across America, some government bureaucrat decides to be a tyrant by using his/her puny little power to ban this or that or to declare this or that “illegal.” See, for example, these FOTM posts:

TN water quality

But a petty bureaucrat in Tennessee, Deputy Director of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Sherwin Smith, takes the prize.

On May 29, 2013, in Columbia, TN, Smith told a group of Maury County residents that unfounded complaints about water quality can be considered by the Obama regime’s Department of Homeland Security to be “an act of terrorism.”

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The audio recording below was made by Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment (SOCE) — a Smyrna-based civic action group that is working with Maury County residents on their complaints about water quality in Mount Pleasant.

Beginning at the 0:38 mark, you’ll hear a male voice with a southern drawl say:

“Just so you’re aware, we take water quality very seriously. Very, very seriously. But when you complain, make sure that when you make water quality complaints, you have basis, because federally, if there is no water quality issues, that can be considered by Homeland Security to be an act of terrorism. What I’m sayin’ is if you’ve got concerns about your drinking water, that’s very important, we take that very seriously, But under federal regulation, if you make allegations about water supply that are unfounded, then that can very easily be considered under Homeland Security to be an act of terrorism because you’re trying to allege things ….”




SOCE uploaded the audio recording onto YouTube, and the incident went viral, disseminated by bloggers across America.

On June 20, The Tennessean published Smith’s recorded comments.

On July 3, 2013, the AP reports that Sherwin Smith has been demotedfrom deputy director of the Division of Water Resources, to a lower-ranking position with a program that helps fund water projects in the state.

Meg Lockhart, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said Smith was thinking about the Patriot Act when he made the reference to terrorism. She said, “While the definition of terrorism in that Act is very broad, complaints to this department concerning drinking water quality, valid or not, clearly do not fall within it. Mr. Smith has apologized, and both he and the department regret that the comment was made.”

The environmental group SOCE issued a statement lauding the department’s action but accused the department of not adequately testing Mount Pleasant’s drinking water, which residents have described as sometimes cloudy. They also cite two boil water notices in the past year or so.

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TDEC has tested the water and believes that it is safe, but the department has said it’s willing to test the water of any resident who has a complaint. Lockhart said 20 additional sites in Mt. Pleasant were sampled June 27. All results were negative for total coliform and E. Coli bacteria.

However, the environmental group wants the department to test for more pollutants — such as lead and arsenic — and commit to testing the water periodically over a number of months, as well as continue to meet with community members on a regular basis until the issues are resolved.

The current commissioner of TDEC is Robert J. (Bob) Martineau, Jr., who was appointed in 2011 by Governor Bill Haslam. Here’s his contact info:

Commissioner Robert J. Martineau, Jr.
312 Rosa L. Parks Ave – Tennessee Tower – 2nd Floor
Nashville, TN 37243
(615) 532-0109

Sherwin Smith is demoted to TDEC’s environmental program manager. Here’s his contact info:

Ph: 615-532-0445
Email: [email protected]

I scoured the net looking for a pic of Sherwin Smith but could not find any.  I searched for “Sherwin Smith” in Tennessee on the people search engine Email Finder, which gave two:

  • Sherwin Alan Smith, 53, Soddy Daisy, TN
  • Sherwin Neal Smith, 51, Nashville, TN

Spokeo says that both are African Americans:

  • Sherwin Alan Smith” who lives in Soddy Daisy is a 53-year-old “African American”;
  • Sherwin N. Smith” who lives in Nashville, TN is a 51-year-old “African American.”

But if you think that’s the end of U.S. citizens being threatened with accusations of terrorism, think again.

Will Potter of Green Is The New Red points out:

H/t FOTM’s Number 41

See also:


Dr. Eowyn is the Editor of Fellowship of the Minds and a regular contributor to The D.C. Clothesline.