Richland Creek Watershed Alliance blog

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Monday, May 31, 2010

Metro's Damage Structures Map published - May 2010 Flood

Metro released the Damaged Structures map they complied for the May 2010 flood. Here is a portion of the map- the Richland Creek watershed.

A message sent from Metro Planning Deparment to RCWA suggested we note for clarity that the 1-4 markers indicated on the MPD legend below are the level of damage, 4 being the worst... not the number of damaged structures on each parcel.

You can go to the Metro website to view all the parcel damage in Davidson't County here

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Program at our Annual Gathering prompts interest and questions

Many interested attendees addressed questions to Kim Elkin (TWRA-Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency flow biologist) after she summarized the flow study data she conducted last spring on a transect of Richland Creek, along the grenway. Ms. Elkin reminded us that the TWRA is not an enforcement agency but conducts studies and writes prescriptions as a commenting agency to the regulator (TN Department of Environment and Conservation-TDEC). Concerns on the impact from stream withdrawal in this area was supported by her summary- "26 days in the low flow months of 200 flow withdrawn exceeded discharge for that day, contributing to a "poor fish assemblage."
TWRA recommendations to TDEC will include, "withdrawal by the golf course should cease" and irrigation needs be acquired from "Metro Water Services." They also suggested to "utilize water harvesting practices during high flow events" (storm events)." The TWRA summary stated in dry years "withdrawals should cease until flow regime is restored and in wet years Richland Creek discharge should be above 15 cubic feet per second (cfs)."
The flow study report cannot be released to RCWA and others until TDEC receives the comments prepared by TWRA. The flow study on Richland Creek will continue and fortunately since we have some data for stream flow, biology and geomorphology now, impacts from the flood can and will be tracked. RCWA will let you know of any volunteer opportunities.

The Vanderbilt research team presented the objectives of the study they are now beginning in the Richland Creek watershed, The Nashville Yard Project, next.
Dr. Jim Fraser introduced the research team (Dr. George Hornberger, Mike Vanderbergh, Dr. Amanda Carrico, Dr. Kimberly Bess, Josh Bazium and Jennifer Mokos) and then summarized the social behavior aspect of the study project- who are the household decision makers and what influences their decisions have on the use of nitrogen containing fertilizers and lawn care practices. The survey questionaire the team complied is planned to be used for 600 households in diverse areas of the Richland Creek watershed.
Dr. Fraser then introduced the primary investigator for the research, Dr. George Hornberger, who then spoke about the sampling aspect to the group. He briefly reviewed the nitrogen cycle and the formation of nitrogen species from microbiall reactions. Because of the widespread use of syntehtic fertilizers the natural uptake of these products are not utilized by plants and are either leached to the groundwater and surface water (nitrate) or into the atmosphere as a powerful greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide.
The research will be collecting soil samples at those same households which participate in the survey. These soil samples collected will be analyzied for many consituents and participants will receive the results of the soil samples and $20 for doing the survey interview.
The study will help guide future research and policy for urban and surburban watersheds and the environmental challenges they face. One particular question asked the presentors was, will there be a measurement of the air emissions created from lawn mowers since fertizlers increases the need for mowing of grass?
Following the program attendees retreated to the community room of the West Nashville United Methodist Church for refreshments and more discussion. THANKS WNUMC!
Would you participate in The Nashville Yard Project if selected for the study?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Richland Creek and the Cumberland River meet up to fill-up the Reostone Quarry pit.

This Youtube video sent RCWA yesterday shows the astonishing episode of flooding from the Cumberland River meeting up with Richland Creek to overflow and fill the many story deep rock quarry pit, so quickly, the Channel 5 news reporters are beyond belief.
The footage begins showing aerials of the Cumberland River flooding during the broadcast of the Govenor's press conference on May 2nd, then jumps to a roaring waterfall at the Reostone quarry pit, becoming a lake, so quickly, that the Channel 5 news reporters gasp in disbelief.
One comment on Youtube said, "I work for TDOT at the complex next door and one of my guys inspect that quarry. He said it is roughly 500 feet deep, 1/2 mile long and 1/4 mile wide."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

RCWA Calls for the SWMC to Rescind the Variance Approval

In your own words share your opinion by May 19th on the Stream Buffer Variance approval for the West Nashville Police precinct and crime lab to the SWMC. See how below.

Metro-Nashville Stormwater Management Committee (SWMC)-

Please rescind the March 4th, 2010 approval of the stream buffer variance for the upcoming Metro West Nashville police precinct and crime lab, at 5500 Charlotte Avenue on Richland Creek (Case #201000002).

Please rescind this variance approval because:

· The parcel flooded severely May 2nd 2010 and if the police precinct and crime lab had been there the police would not have been able to respond effectively, any evidence would have been contaminated, police cars would have been swept off by floodwater and the emergency supplies would have been inaccessible.

· The stream buffer needs to be reclaimed and restored to reduce flooding downstream (fatalities occurred in the Nations Neighborhood just downstream from this location May 2010).

· The Metro Water Services regulation and the FEMA determination of a 75 foot buffer and; Mayor Dean’s Executive Order 33 (Green Ribbon Committee Sustainability Report for stream corridors, pages 42-44) should be upheld.

· The water quality and ecological habitat of Richland Creek needs an effective and sustainable riparian area.

· The flood elevation determined for this 1965 development, which was built on ‘in-fill,’ is artificial.

By May 19th, email, write your letter to or call Paula Kee, Stormwater Management Committee Coordinator
800 2nd Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37210
Phone: (615) 880-2334 (, to express your opinion and before the next Stormwater Committee Meeting May 20, 2010 at 8 am.

Tell RCWA what you think?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Richland Creek Reclaims Floodplain

Two videos on Youtube:
The video above shows the peak of flooding west of Richland Creek on Charlotte avenue (at the proposed West Nashville police precinct) and below is the east side of the creek, on Morrow road.

The first part of the video below is what a Nations neighbor saw that escaped flooding and then the photographer goes to Morrow road and Charlotte avenue- an eastern perspective of the creek at peak flooding time.
Imagining the videos together, the magnitude of the flood is lucid. In this two block radius you see the stream trying to reclaim it's floodplain.

Nashville Flood Coverage 5/2/2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More photos- peak of flood at proposed precinct location and the damage to at least 100 homes just downstream in Nations neighborhood

The proposed Metro West Nashville Police precinct and crime lab (above) requested a stream buffer variance in March, which was approved. The recommended FEMA 75 foot stream buffer reclamation is certainly now understood by the view of the massive flood water May 2nd. Photos sent to RCWA shows the extent of flooding.
RCWA comments to the Stormwater Management Committee spoke to the lack of a riparian area could cause dangerous flooding, which it did. Nations neighborhood experienced tragic loss and fatalities (below).
Metro police closes neighborhoods off to visitors today because of looting.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Richland Creek grows angrily - leaves memories

May 2nd midday-
CSX underpass flooded, Sloan road, May 2nd (sent)
Roaring from CSX trestle to greenway bridge May 2nd (sent).

From my house on 54th Avenue North looking north to Charlotte Avenue on May 2nd midday. I saw a parked SUV be picked up by the flood water and taken to Richland Creek during this venture out- to see if my house was in danger. The SUV I saw carried off occurred behind these flooded houses.

May 2nd early evening-
Later the flood water receded and I ventured out of my house to Charlotte Avenue. There was a strong smell of natural gas, smoke and other chemical odors. The police now present at Charlotte and Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) was on the way I was told. He told me there was an explosion and I told him of the old underground and surface storage areas for hazardous materials in the area. As some of you may know this area is why I founded the Richland Creek Watershed Alliance, where we proposed James Park, have our Spring Creek Clean ups and opposed the recent stream buffer variance for the upcoming Metro West Nashville police precinct and crime lab. Various photos below of what I observed the evening of May 2nd on Charlotte avenue, near the corner of 54th avenue north intersection. Yes.. that is a trailer upside down on, in the creek bed at Charlotte Avenue. Richland Creek still roaring to heed it's call- just below flood stage now.

May 3rd 6:30 a.m.
This morning I went out early to see clearly the devastation. Here are some of many photos taken- Las Palmas was flooded since early Saturday and much damaged to the proposed police precinct location, which was built on in-fill in the sixties and now revealed.
1) RCWS spring creek clean up area next to Las Palmas
2)Heavy iron metal grease bin usually sits on creekside empty and moved
3) Camper makes to tributary to Richland behind Las Palmas
Across the street here is a photo of the little riparian vegetation that was there- now gone, parking area removed from the old Champion Ford (proposed precinct location) which reveals the in-fill it was built upon in the sixties and; the damage to the planned police precinct retrofit building.
One of our comments at the stream variance hearing (which RCWA opposed) was that the lack of riparian area here is dangerous to the homes along Richland downstream from here and why we support the FEMA recommendation of a 75 foot stream buffer. The street DelRay, one of those streets that dead end north of Urbandale bridge, had a tragic fatality yesterday. All the houses I hear are flooded there along the creek but I have not accessed the area yet.
Next to the proposed precinct location is the Eagle Body Shop flooded. I reported to authorities long ago of the pollution occurring here and of standing water for extended periods of time. The elevation is lower here because of the sixties development of the old Champion Ford and brewing toxic soup.
Below are links that RCWA members sent. They have more photos and videos of the greenway area and other unbelievable sights showing a beloved creek turned into a roaring river and toxic lake.

May 2nd Videos

Video of Richland Creek on May 2nd:

Greenway Photos

Pass the word along for the understanding that these stormwater waters are dangerously contaminated with pathogens and chemicals.
It is not wise or safe to be in-contact with these waters!

Mid morning May 3 UPDATE
Greenway condition by Richland Creek TrailWatch volunteer

TrailWatch volunteer coordinator Kip sent photos. He said, "all these photos are near middle pedestrian bridge on east side of creek. All three major pedestrian bridges, as well as the Whitebridge pedestrian walkway, appear to be sound/undamaged to the naked eye."

North side of Charlotte Afternoon May 3
I rode my bike to see some areas on the north side of Charlotte and the Urbandale bridge now.
On my way got a photo of the ATM in front of Richland Creek Shopping Center which I have heard has an old Underground Storage Tank and saw the uprooted parking at Burger King. All of the shopping center was flooded and there are sounds of pumping water in most of the shops.
I rode up Morrow road to find it closed due to a serious and Hazmat situation still being resolved. Cars were swallowed by the road that opened up from flood waters (first pic below). There was still a strong chemical smell in the air.
The 2nd pic is of a car suspended in Richland, just south of Urbandale bridge. You can see the tires in the photo. The streets of the neighborhood (RUN) were filled with belongings piled high in front of flooded homes. One after another. Too much traffic to get a photo, but a memory of devastation. One owner said to me after I introduced myself, "well those expensive rocks that you laid out here to prevent flooding were worthless." He is referring to the State project that was implemented to lay rock weirs along the east bank of creek to prevent erosion of stream bank- people's backyards.

See a video link (below) I found on YouTube that was filmed at Richland Creek Shopping Center during the worst of the flooding there. PepBoys have about a dozen garage bays washing many gallons of petroleum based products and other toxics substances to the stream and river, besides the obvious.

Richland Creek Shopping Center flood video May 2nd 10 a.m. -

Thanks to all those that contributed to this photo and video journal.
Monette Rebecca
Executive Director
Richland Creek Watershed Alliance

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mayday rain event breaking records this weekend

Charlotte Avenue
Belle Meade Kroger on West End/Harding Road
McCabe golf course at Oakmont Circle (across from greenway)
Last photo (above) update May 2nd

Do you always wonder what Richland Creek looks like during a downpour but you don't want to risk going out to see? Here are some photos of Richland Creek along the greenway, on Charlotte Avenue and at the Belle Meade Kroger sent us this Mayday 2010. Last photo taken from Oakmont Circle posted May 2nd.
Thanks to our photographers!

This is a creekflash

Photos from our Fourth Annual Spring Creek Clean Up

BIG thanks to the volunteers!

More good news for this small segment of Richland Creek at Charlotte Avenue this year- "the trash and debris in and around the stream seems to have decreased since last year." We had 35 volunteers participating. There were students from Hume Fog, Nashville State Community College and Belmont University; representatives from Ingram Barge and RCWA members who worked hard for our cause. Also, RCWA supporter Warren Dusak represented the Herpetological Society (straw hat above) and joined our effort to identify snakes and other reptiles, and their habitat, for participants. That is a northern water snake in photo. Did you know if a snake's eyes are round they are not poisonous and if they are elliptical they are poisonous?

Thanks for the photos from RCWA member Faye Hendrickson.

Also, thanks again to Metro Water Services and Metro Beautifications' Adopt a Stream program and their sponsor, the Great American Clean Up, for supplies. RCWA also appreciates the contributions made by Krogers and Harris Teeter to purchase snacks and water for volunteers. Together~ we make a difference.

Check out this photo of a Blue Heron spotted in Richland Creek by Greenway Trailwatcher Kip. He and his wife also saw a mallard with 12 ducklings that entertained them for a while but didn't have a camera.