2024 america's most endangered rivers®

Duck River

Right now, we’re on a collision course. The Duck River is our lifeblood, but poorly planned growth will suck the river dry. The good news is, we can change course and wisely manage our water to protect the river, our economy, and quality of life.

2024 America's Most Endangered Rivers®

Threat: Excessive Water Withdrawals

The Duck River is a beautiful Tennessee waterway and is among the top three most biodiverse rivers in the world. The river is used locally for drinking water, agriculture, and large-scale manufacturing processes, and demand for water from the Duck is rapidly outpacing what the river can sustainably provide. Overconsumption of the Duck River’s water threatens its invaluable fish and wildlife and its long-term use by local communities. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation must protect this incredible waterway by developing a comprehensive watershed plan and funding much-needed scientific studies to understand the flow needs of the river and ensure its long-term health.


Harpeth Conservancy, Southern Environmental Law Center, Tennessee Wildlife Federation

About American Rivers

For 50 years, the public interest organization American Rivers (AR) has been a national leader protecting and restoring rivers throughout the U.S.

Each year, American Rivers releases its list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® (MER), spotlighting ten rivers where human health and safety are at risk. The report “amplifies the voices of local partners and spotlights decisions that will determine the fates of the rivers.”

Local groups across the U.S. nominate rivers for inclusion on the MER list, and AR selects rivers based on three criteria: (1) the significance of the river to people and wildlife, (2) the “magnitude of the threat to the river and communities, especially in light of climate change and environmental injustice,” and (3) whether there is a “decision in the next 12 months that the public can influence.” Harpeth Conservancy, Southern Environmental Law Center, and Tennessee Wildlife Federation nominated the Duck River as part of an on-going campaign to protect the river, now for future generations.

2015 Most Endangered Rivers List: Harpeth River

In 2015, American Rivers named the State Scenic Harpeth River among America’s Most Endangered Rivers, highlighting major threats to water quality and public health: sewage pollution and excessive water withdrawals.

Guided by the leadership of Harpeth Conservancy, the national attention galvanized state and local decision-makers with large community support to tighten state required permits on both sewer discharges and water withdrawals to improve water quality, especially during the critical summer low-flow season when recreational use is highest. State-of-the art technology to remove nutrient pollution was included in the City of Franklin’s expanded sewer plant, the largest by far on the Harpeth River, which has cut the phosphorus pollution by over half in the following years. Being listed as one of the Most Endangered Rivers in 2015 was critical in uniting the community to protect this valuable resource!

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Clean Water Protection

Duck River Permits

The Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) is asking for public comments on a series of proposed and expanded water withdrawals (by drinking water utilities) from one of the most biodiverse rivers in the world—the Duck River—which flows through Middle Tennessee.

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