The blue line in the map below represents the adopted section of Mill Creek. The purple boundary in the map outlines this creek's watershed. When it rains, water that falls within this boundary eventually finds its way to the waterway. The quality of water in the waterway is directly connected to the condition of the land within this purple drainage boundary.
Any stewardship activities you do within these boundaries will improve the condition of your waterway.
Information on this page was compiled using resources from iCreek.
This section of Mill Creek is considered unhealthy by the State of Tennessee as a result of four problems — Low Dissolved Oxygen, Nutrients, Pathogens, and Siltation.
Low Dissolved Oxygen can be a major issue in a stream environment. In fast-moving streams, rushing water is aerated as it churns over rocks, saturating these environments with oxygen. However, in slow, stagnant waters, oxygen only enters the top layer of water, and deeper water is often low in dissolved oxygen concentration. When algal blooms form in waters as a result of nutrients, the highly productive algae use the dissolved oxygen and leave the environment inhabitable for other organisms. Depleted dissolved oxygen in water will restrict or eliminate aquatic life. While some species can tolerate lower levels of oxygen for short periods, prolonged exposure will affect biological diversity and, in extreme cases, cause massive fish kills.
Nutrient issues in streams result from over-fertilized urban lawns and gardens. Other sources include pet waste, municipal wastewater systems, and dishwashing detergent. When fertilizers exceed plant needs, are left out in the open, or are applied just before it rains, nutrients can wash into our waterways over land or seep into groundwater. High concentrations of nutrients, found in human and pet waste, can contaminate our waters via leaking sewer lines or neglected pet waste. Increased nutrient concentrations cause nuisance or toxic algae blooms in waterbodies, killing fish and aquatic life. High concentrations of nutrients must also be filtered from our drinking water, since they can cause methemoglobinemia, also known as blue baby syndrome.
Pathogens indicate that water is contaminated by human or animal waste. In urban areas, pathogens end up in creeks when dog owners don’t pick up their pet’s waste or when sewer lines leak. Pathogens typically become a problem during and after heavy rainfall, when storms wash pathogens from pet waste off yards and parks from into our waterways or overwhelm sewer infrastructure.
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.
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 questions or ideas for other activities, feel free to call the Cumberland River Compact at 615-837-1151.
Mill Creek Watershed Association plays a role in stewarding water resources in your creek. Connecting with them to do activities below or to come up with other stewardship activities is highly recommended. Contact: email@example.com
Schedule a walk/cleanup.
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! Consider combining a cleanup with a scouting effort. While your picking up trash, photograph or record the locations of destabilized banks, needed streamside vegetation, invasive species, dams, or other potential water quality concerns. Resources include:
Allow for natural growth near your waterway.
If you live or work next to a waterway, leave a 35′ to 100′ no mow zone on its banks. Allow natural and native plant growth in this buffer area or plant native trees, bushes, and groundcover. Natives require less watering and fertilizer. This vegetation can filter pollutants before they reach our waterways and provide other water quality benefits that far exceed those of a mowed lawn. 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 - Cumberland River Compact (615-837-1151)
- Free Trees for TEC's Statewide 250K Tree Day - 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
- General Guidelines for Volunteer Based Riparian Buffer Plantings - TN Environmental Council
- Improving Stream Channels With Live Staking - UT Extension
- Tennessee Urban Riparian Buffer Handbook - TN Dept. of Agriculture
- Landscaping with Native Plants in Middle TN - TN Wildlife Resources Agency
- Native Plants for TN - UT Extension
- Native Tennessee plant suppliers in the area include: Nashville Natives, GroWild, and Gardens of Babylon, Moore & Moore Garden Center, Native Gardens in Greenback.
This stewardship activity will address all problems in your creek.
Plant a rain garden.
Rain gardens can filter and infiltrate stormwater that flows across your yard. Plant natives which require less water and fertilizer. Resources include:
- Free Rain Garden Consultation and Plants - Cumberland River Compact (615-837-1151)
- Rain Gardens - A Resource Guide - Cumberland River Compact and Metro Nashville
- TN Native Rain Garden Plants - UT Extension
- Rain Gardens for Tennessee - UT Extension
- Rain Gardens Educator's Toolkit, Rain Gardens for Tennessee Site Summary, and Rain Garden Facts and Tips - UT Extension
- Rain Garden Guide for Middle Tennesseans by Patty Ghertner
- Rain Garden Workshop Guide - Tennessee Environmental Council
This stewardship activity will address all problems in your creek.
Reduce paved/impervious surfaces.
Impervious or impermeable surfaces, like pavement, contribute significantly to polluted stormwater runoff and alter stream flow habitat. If you've got excess pavement you'd like removed, consider a de-paving project with the Compact. Elsewhere, ensure that your downspouts drain to vegetation, gravel, or rainbarrels, rather than impervious surfaces. If you constructing or repairing your driveway, pervious pavement allows stormwater to infiltrate and filter through the ground. If you can’t do the whole drive, consider making only the portion closest to the street pervious. Resources include:
- De-paving Work - Cumberland River Compact (Call 615-837-1151)
- Rain Barrel Sales - Cumberland River Compact
- Rain Barrels Make Good Sense - UT Extension
This stewardship activity will addresses the siltation problems in your creek.
Pick up after your pet.
Pick up after your pet when s/he is on a walk, at the dog park, or in your own backyard. Dispose of this waste in the trash or toilet. Many pet stores and retailers sell biodegradable bags for picking up waste. Some companies in the region offer pet waste removal services. You can also start a pet education campaign in your neighborhood and/or distribute biodegradable pet waste bags. Resources include:
- Free Biodegradable Pet Waste Bags - Cumberland River Compact (615-837-1151)
- Nashville Pet Products Center, Spot's Pet Supply and Grooming, PetCo, and other nearby pet stores nearby sell biodegradable bags. Online options include: Earth Rated Green Dog Poop Bags; Pogi’s Earth Friendly Poop Bags; BioBag Dog; Flush Puppies Doodie Bags.
- Companies in the region that offer pet waste removal services include Doo Doo Blues, Tidy Paws, Poop Control, Herbert Lawn Care and Landscaping, and Wags.
- Pet Waste Education Campaign - How-to-Guide
This stewardship activity will address the pathogen and nutrient problems in your creek.
Only use fertilizers when it's absolutely necessary. Follow application directions, and use only in recommended amounts according to the needs of your soil. Do not apply fertilizers before rainfall. onsider passing out free soil sampling kits and educational materials somewhere popular or public in the watershed.
- Soil Testing in Davidson County - University of Tennessee Soil, Plant and Pest Center
- How to Soil Sample a Lawn or Garden - UT Extension
- Nutrient Outreach and Educational Materials - EPA
- UT Municipal Technical Advisory Service provides a number of related educational resources including Lawn and Garden Fertilizers, Lawn Watering, and Managing Leaves and Yard Trimmings.
- Proper Lawn and Garden Maintenance - Nashville
This stewardship activity will address the nutrient problem in your creek.
Remove unused dams or other human made stream obstructions.
If you have an antiquated or unneeded dam on your property, contact the Cumberland River Compact and/or The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee to discuss the feasibility of removing it. Walk the stream and inventory the location of any dams or obstructions, and let the Compact know so we can add these to our database or potential removal projects. Resources Include:
- Dam Removal Work - Cumberland River Compact - Call 615-837-1151
- Dam Removal Work - The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee - Call 615-383-9909
- How Dams Damage Rivers and How Dams are Removed - American Rivers
This stewardship activity will addresses the dissolved oxygen, nutrient, and siltation problems in your creek.
Support public funding of water treatment plants and sewer infrastructure. 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. 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
- Report a Water Pollution Concern - Metro Nashville, TN Department of Environment and Conservation, US EPA
This stewardship activity will addresses the pathogen problems in your creek.
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 Mill Creek Watershed Association.
Spread the word.
Do your neighbors, family, or roommates know about the problem? 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.