Spencer Creek

PROGRAM: Adopt-A-Stream

The purple boundary in the map below outlines the adopted portion of Spencer Creek's watershed. When it rains, water that falls within this boundary eventually finds its way to the creek. This section of Spencer Creek is directly impacted by all land within the purple drainage boundary. 

Any stewardship activities you do within these purple watershed boundaries will improve the condition of your waterway.

Information on this page was compiled using resources from iCreek

Spencer Creek is considered unhealthy by the State of Tennessee as a result of three problems — Altered Streamside VegetationPathogens, and Siltation. (View section in iCreek

Photo by Jed Grubbs

Photo by Jed Grubbs

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.

Photo by Jed Grubbs

Photo by Jed Grubbs

Pathogens indicate that water is contaminated by human or animal waste. In urban areas, pathogens end up in creeks when sewer lines leak or when dog owners don’t pick up their pet’s waste. Pathogen problems are most often linked with heavy rainfall, which can overwhelm older sewer systems and/or wash pathogens from neglected pet waste into our waterways. Pet waste that is left in the street, dog park, or even a person's backyard contributes to major water quality problems in Nashville.

Photo by Paul Sloan

Photo by Paul Sloan

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

 
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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.
 

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:

Photo by John Moran

Photo by John Moran

Allow for natural growth near your waterway. 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:

This stewardship activity will address the altered streamside vegetation, pathogen, and siltation problems in Spencer Creek.

Plant a rain garden.
Rain gardens can filter and infiltrate stormwater that flows across your yard. Resources include:

This stewardship activity will address the altered streamside vegetation, pathogen, and siltation problems in Spencer Creek.

Photo by Jed Grubbs

Photo by Jed Grubbs

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: 

This stewardship activity will address the altered streamside vegetation and siltation problems in Spencer 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:

This stewardship activity will address the pathogen problems in Spencer Creek.

Photo by Jed Grubbs

Photo by Jed Grubbs

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:

This stewardship activity will address the siltation problem in Spencer Creek.

Limit fertilizer and pesticide use. 
Fertilizers, pesticides and other pollutants can attach themselves to soil particles and find their way to your creek. Only use fertilizers and pesticides when it's absolutely necessary. Follow application directions, and use only in recommended amounts according to the needs of your soil. Do not apply before rainfall. Consider passing out free soil sampling kits and educational materials somewhere popular or public in the watershed. Resources include:

This stewardship activity will address the siltation problem in Spencer 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: 

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 Spencer Creek's watershed. Share this website or resources in it with your neighbors and encourage them to join the effort to protect Spencer Creek.

 

 

This adoption is administered by the Cumberland River Compact 
with support from The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee