Richland Creek Watershed Alliance blog

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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impact from stream withdrawal in this area was supported by her summary- "26 days in the low flow months of 200 flow withdrawn exceeded discharge for that day, contributing to a "poor fish assemblage."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?

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