We have degraded our streams
Richland Creek has several environmental concerns and does not meet its classified designated uses—criteria for fish and aquatic life, and recreation uses. Stakeholders can request regulatory requirements be met and can help our creeks able to thrive again.
What is the importance of a riparian area?
Riparian refers to the land and plant ecology along waterways (river banks). They protect streams and provide food, shelter and movement for wildlife. Estimated as only 1% of the landscape, riparian land is unique and more diverse than other type of landscape, but much has disappeared. The tree canopy over the stream helps maintain a cool temperature for healthy dissolved oxygen levels. The vegetation filtrates pollution from urban run-off and stabilizes stream banks. Continuous riparian corridors are vital to the web of life, aquatic and terrestrial. The corridor’s vegetative roots maintain a defined, free-flowing channel that prevents bank erosion and sedimentation.
Riparian corridors are the most important component for maintaining a healthy, thriving stream.
Richland Creek is a free flowing spring-fed perennial stream, draining a 28 square mile land area (green on map). Red segments on the Richland Creek Damage Reach Map indicate “repetitive loss” areas on major branches in our watershed identified in Nashville’s Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan. Richland Creek flows north into the Cumberland River at river mile 175.6 and is located in west Nashville, between Warner Park and Bells Bend.
Protecting our stream corridors make good flood defense
Urban flooding occurs as a result of land loosing its ability to absorb rainfall, by the conversion of open land to nonabsorbent surfaces (buildings, roads, parking areas). Urbanization causes flash flooding, increasing runoff 2-6 times more that what would have occurred on the undeveloped land. Stream alterations are engineered with the intent to protect one place from flooding but can agitate flooding in other areas of the stream system.
Building in flood zones and stream conversion, such as filling-in wetlands, shortening or straightening streams, putting them to bed (bury) or into culverts, decreases water storage areas that can have costly consequences. Upstream flooding occurs from downstream conditions, such as channel restriction, high urban run-off flow or floodway obstructions.
- Urbanization and human activities threaten the sustainability of our streams
- Urban run-off is delivering a toxic soup to streams and rivers
- Excessive development eliminates filtration of run-off and protection of riparian areas
- Trash accumulation in streams adds to the degradation
- Overuse of fertilizers and other turf chemicals degrades stream habitat & water quality
- Low-head dams inhibits healthy flow, connectivity, habitat & fish populations
- Excessive water-use of stream degrades water quality
Richland Creek’s current status
Official 303(d) reports call Richland Creek “impaired.” TDEC 2012 reported “impaired waters” for Richland Creek in their Water Quality Assessment Publications. Streams in our watershed are found in the Cheatham Reservoir section. More detailed information is in the EPA data on Impaired Waters of Richland Creek. Click on various branches: Jocelyn Hollow, Murphy, Vaughns Gap, Sugartree, Unnamed Tributary, Belle Meade or the main stem, Richland Creek to see maps and find out more.
Stakeholders can request Richland Creek be better protected so stream life can recover. TWRA fish surveys conducted for the instream flow study (2009, 2010) recognized that “pollution tolerant” species were found more prevalent in Richland Creek than native fish species, which are unable to thrive in poor stream conditions.