The Little Harpeth River
ADOPTED BY: Harvard Club of Middle Tennessee
PROGRAM: Metro Adopt-A-Stream
The purple boundary in the map below outlines the watershed of your adopted waterway. When it rains, water that falls within this boundary eventually finds its way to your stream. The yellow line represents your adopted segment. Your stream's water is directly impacted by all land within the purple drainage boundary. Stewardship activities performed on land or water anywhere within these purple watershed boundaries will improve the condition of your waterway.
Information on this page was compiled using resources from iCreek.
This section of the Harpeth is considered unhealthy by the State of Tennessee as a result of Altered Streamside Vegetation and Siltation.
Altered Streamside Vegetation negatively impacts instream and streamside habitat and destabilizes stream banks. It involves the removal or modification of a waterway's naturally vegetated banks. Common causes of this type of impairment include the removal of trees from stream banks and/or the mowing of stream banks. In agricultural areas, destabilization can result from animals grazing on and trampling streamside vegetation.
Silt refers to the dirt, soil, or sediment that is carried and deposited by our water. While some silt in water is normal and healthy, many additional tons of silt find their way to our water every year, negatively impacting water quality. Excessive silt clogs gills, and smothers eggs and nests. It can bury habitat aquatic insects need for survival, which impacts organisms up the food chain that eat these insects for survival. Siltation can also interfere with photosynthesis in aquatic plants resulting in a decrease in needed dissolved oxygen. Siltation also increases levels of treatment needed for drinking water, fills up reservoirs and navigation channels, and increases a waterbodies likelihood of flooding.
Plant and Animal Species Observations in Your Watershed
Plant and animal species within your watershed depend on clean water for survival. The work you do to improve water quality in your watershed benefits not only the people in your watershed, but also the many plant and animals that live there, as well. When iNaturalist users observe plants and animals species in your watershed they will display below. You can create your own iNaturalist account to start recording observed species in your adopted stream's watershed.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
There are many things you can do to help your creek. We've got some ideas and resources below, but don't be limited to these alone. If you've got ideas for other activities or questions in general, feel free to contact the Cumberland River Compact.
- Remember to always ensure you have landowner permission before doing stewardship work on public or private land. Feel free to contact the Compact, if you need help obtaining permission.
- Please give the Compact two weeks notice prior to any planned stewardship activity.
There's no better way to get to know your creek, than by visiting it in person. Whether your wading, paddling, or walking alongside it, you'll end up with a much better sense of where it's healthy and where it's hurting if you pay it a visit.
- Supplies (trash bags and gloves) for cleanups - Cumberland River Compact (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org / 615-837-1151)
- Example Stream Survey Guidelines - Cumberland River Compact
- Consolidated Litter Pickup - City of Nashville can pick up consolidated litter if given two weeks notice. The Compact can serve as a liaison in obtaining this service.
- Report Litter (If it's on or near a road) - TN Department of Transportation
Plant (or allow for) natural growth near your waterway. Remove invasive species.
If permission from property owners along the waterway can be obtained, organize a planting of native trees, bushes, and groundcover. You could combine the event with invasive removals. Allowing a 35′ to 100′ no mow zone on a streams banks can filter pollutants before they reach our waterways and provide other water quality benefits that far exceed those of a mowed lawn. Natives plants also require less watering and fertilizer. Resources include:
If you can't do a planting, consider distributing free trees and educational information to the public somewhere in your adopted segment's watershed. Resources include:
- Free Trees for Properties Near Waterway (Late Fall - Early Spring) - Cumberland River Compact (615-837-1151)
- Shovels, Gloves, and Invasive Removal Tools - Cumberland River Compact
- Free Trees for TEC's Statewide 250K Tree Day (Each year in February) - TN Environmental Council (615.248.6500)
- Purchase Native Wildflower/Grass Alternatives to Mowed Grass - Roundstone Native Seed and/or Seedland
- Tennessee Aquatic Stream Clean Up and Riparian Tree Grant (Scroll to bottom of linked page for more info) - TN Wildlife Resources Agency
- Area plant suppliers advertising sale of natives include: Nashville Natives, GroWild, and Gardens of Babylon, Moore & Moore Garden Center, Native Gardens in Greenback.
Observe and document species in your watershed using iNaturalist.
Your adopted segment has its own iNaturalist page! You can visit it here. This page will show you plant and animal species others are seeing in your watershed. It will also allow you and others in your group to observe and record plant and animal species seen in your watershed. In addition, it can also function like a social media platform, allowing you to interact with others who are making observations and tell them about your adoption or stewardship efforts and opportunities.
You can create an account on iNaturalist and email email@example.com if you'd like to be an admin for your page. This will allow you to better tailor your page to your group.
Each Spring, the City participates in the Nationwide City Nature Challenge. This event is a fun way to obtain species data in your watershed and engage with the larger region within a regional BioBlitz. Contact the Cumberland River Compact if you're interested in participating in the City Nature Challenge.
Distribute stewardship and educational materials in a public place for your waterway.
Consider passing out native wildflower seeds, pet waste bags, free soil sampling kits, and educational materials somewhere popular or public in the watershed. Pet waste bags can help keep out pathogens, native wildflowers and other forms of vegetation can filter out excess pathogens and silt, and soil test kits can help landowners not over-fertilize their lawns.
- Soil Test Mailers (Courtesy of UT Soil, Plant and Pest Center), Pet Waste Bags, Native Wildflowers - Cumberland River Compact (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org / 615-837-1151)
- 1 pager for distribution with general information about your creek - (Contact email@example.com / 615-837-1151)
Support public funding of water treatment plants and sewer infrastructure, as well as stormwater fees. Report sewer leakages and other water quality concerns.
Water related infrastructure is expensive and obtaining funding for necessary sewer and water treatment improvements is often a challenge for communities. However, public dollars are critical to our water quality and public health. Support your community's efforts to properly maintain it's water related infrastructure. If you see pollution occurring in your waterway, call Metro Stormwater at 615-880-2420 or email StormWaterQuality@nashville.gov. If possible, send pictures and/or video. Additional resources include:
- America's Infrastructure Report Card - American Society of Civil Engineers
- How Sewage Pollution Ends Up in Rivers - American Rivers
- Greening Water Infrastructure - American Rivers
Organize with others in your community. Make your voices heard and your votes count.
Participate in community planning efforts and advocate for relevant measures that improve or protect water quality. Write to your elected official or to the media and let them know this is a concern or invite them to speak about the impairment with your home-owners association. When elections come up, vote for candidates who will address the problem and hold them accountable to their promises. Support local watershed / environmental associations. Resources include:
- Advocacy Toolkit - TN Environmental Council
- Find Your Legislators - Federal Legislators; State Legislators
- Citizen Action Guide to Watershed Assessment and Restoration - TN Environmental Council
- Area watershed associations include the Cumberland River Compact and the Harpeth Conservancy.
Spread the word!
Do your neighbors, family, or roommates know about the challenges your stream is facing? Now that you know how to be an effective steward, enlist the help of others in your neighborhood. Share iCreek or resources within it with your neighbors and encourage them to join the effort to protect your creek.