Keynote Speaker TDEC Commissioner David W. Salyers, P.E.
David Salyers became commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in January 2019 after serving as executive director of the West Tennessee River Basin Authority since 1997.
A native of rural western Kentucky and resident of Madison County, Tennessee, Salyers led the West Tennessee River Basin Authority as an agency that sets the standard for water resource management in West Tennessee. Salyers introduced stream management techniques that led to improved efficiency and preservation of natural resources.
Under Salyers’ leadership, the Basin Authority was recognized by state and local leaders as innovative and cost-effective. The agency successfully built partnerships with state departments, federal agencies, nonprofits, local chambers of commerce, businesses, private landowners and agricultural producers. Such partnerships led to large collaborative grant awards for projects to reduce flooding, protect infrastructure, improve water quality and restore ecosystems. The agency provided solutions to issues related to public safety, agriculture, transportation, recruitment of industry, watershed stabilization, water quality and natural resource enhancement. He received the 2016 Land Conservationist of the Year Award from the Tennessee Wildlife Federation for his wetlands restoration work and effective promotion of soil conservation practices with local farmers that improved the health of target watersheds.
Salyers worked for 11 years in the private sector in the Southeast as an engineer and manager before taking the reins of the Basin Authority. He maintains registrations as a professional engineer and geologist, as well as being a certified hydrologic professional. He received a bachelor’s degree in geology from Murray State University and a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in geological engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Salyers and his wife, Robin, a professor at Bethel University, have been married for 36 years. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.