Whites Creek project results in water quality improvement
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and Metro Water Services (MWS) lifted a longstanding ‘water contact advisory’ for a 2.9-mile section of Whites Creek, a sign of improved water quality for Whites Creek and the Cumberland River.
The lifted segment has been on TDEC’s 303(d) list, a list of impaired streams due to pathogens and nutrients, for several years. The Tennessee Water Quality Control Act requires that the TDEC post signs and inform the public when bacteria in water or contaminants in sediment or fish tissue can cause public health to be unduly at risk from exposure. While Whites Creek will remain on the 303(d) list for nutrients, the water quality standards for pathogens have been met.
“This is a result of several years of local and state environmental experts working together to find a solution to a problem,” said TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. “Although there is still work to do, lifting the water contact advisory is exciting news for all of us who care about the environment, especially those who live near this particular segment of Whites Creek.”
The initial cause of the advisory is attributed to the deterioration of the old Whites Creek Pumping Station, which was first constructed in the 1960’s. Undersized and unreliable, the pumping station began to cause sanitary sewer overflows into the creek.
In 1990, total capacity of the pumping station was raised from 5 million gallons per day (MGD) to about 16 MGD. However, increased rainwater volume seeping into deteriorated sewer pipes continued to overwhelm the pumping station. In 2012 a $20 million Clean Water Nashville project began to upgrade Whites Creek Pumping Station to 50 MGD capacity and make other improvements. Since its November 2013 completion, WCPS has been operating successfully and has not experienced a sanitary sewer overflow even with exceptionally high flows.
“A new and improved pumping station is now online bringing one of Nashville’s most chronic sanitary sewer overflows into compliance,” said MWS Director Scott Potter. “This is big news for the residents of this area, and we are excited about the advisory being removed.”
TDEC has prepared a short video about the event, which can be viewed here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On1-Bv88ZTA