Clean Water Protection
Assuring Stream Flows
The Harpeth River is TOO SMALL to Supply Franklin with Drinking Water
The Harpeth River is too small a river, with its low flow summer season, to be a reliable source of drinking water for the city of Franklin. Even when it was a small town in the 1950s, the Harpeth was not big enough to support the town’s drinking water needs without other sources. In the 1980s, Franklin launched its growth by connecting to Harpeth Valley Utility District (HVUD) which provides the bulk of drinking water for Franklin year-round and 100% of the city’s drinking water many days of the summer from a large drinking water plant on the Cumberland River (over 20 times the size of the city’s current plant).
Over the past 10 years, the city of Franklin has hired 3 different consulting firms to propose to the state (TDEC) and the City Aldermen the replacement of the old drinking water plant. Instead of no longer making drinking water from the Harpeth, these proposals have been to rebuild at the current size or even rebuild at twice the size. Redone cost estimates were presented as recently as June, 2014.
In 2007, the state issued a water withdrawal permit to the city based on significant analysis by the city, HRWA, and other experts that set the limits on how much water the city could pull from the Harpeth for a drinking water plant and not cause impairment. The old plant was not replaced since the city’s own analyses showed that a drinking water plant on the Harpeth of either size will typically only work at half capacity during the summer months under the state permit conditions. Then in 2012, city consultants resuscitated the drinking water plant expansion idea by proposing to add treated sewage to the river upstream of downtown Franklin and the drinking water plant. This Toilet to Tap proposal did not get aldermen support, but it is the recommendation in the city’s Integrated Water Management Plan provided to the state and others.
This summer, the state will review issuing another water withdrawal permit to Franklin. Under the state regulations, water withdrawals of the levels the city has proposed cause degradation. As a result, the withdrawal is not to be permitted unless there is an economic necessity. The city already has a reliable drinking water supply system with HVUD. It does not need the Harpeth.
Your voice Matters! Tell city aldermen and TDEC to save significant rate payer and tax payer funds by letting go of the past and focusing on improving the river’s health through downtown Franklin.
Watch this video of Science Director Ryan Jackwood and AmeriCorps member Meriweather Bean as they present the work of Harpeth Conservancy to improve water quality
Traffic isn’t the only major issue with the rapid growth across Middle TN. A major hidden and smelly public health risk is untreated sewage that