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USSTC Models Corporate Environmental Stewardship

September 20, 2021


USSTC, an Altria subsidiary, has been a longtime supporter of the Compact’s efforts to reduce stormwater runoff: sponsoring the Green Alleys project and working with the Compact to provide Nashvillians with free plants for rain gardens. And now, their Nashville campus is a model of corporate environmental stewardship. 

Converting Pavement to Greenspace

Our work is most gratifying when people (and companies!) join us in an effort to reduce stormwater run-off. That is just what USSTC did at their downtown Nashville plant in early 2021. “We have huge facilities and parking lots in downtown Nashville,” says Greg. “We asked the Cumberland River Compact to walk our property to learn what we could do to help with water conservation, particularly with our large footprint in the heart of the city.”

USSTC added two large rain gardens to their property in downtown Nashville. And it’s a major step forward in the facility’s conservation work.

2 large rain gardens at the front and rear of the property occupy 3,000 square feet and will capture an estimated 126,000 gallons of stormwater annually.

“This facility has endured flooding over the years, and this whole area regularly sees local flooding and damage from storms, even when the river doesn’t rise,” says Charlie Martin, Corporate Citizenship Manager at Altria. “When we reduce stormwater runoff, we can help minimize soil, nutrients, oil, and other chemicals from washing into streams, rivers, and groundwater. This project highlights how we contribute to improving water quality in both our operating and tobacco-growing communities.”

Rain Gardens Impact Stormwater

Like many cities, Nashville has a “combined sewer,” where both storm and sewer water use the same pipe to go to a treatment facility. During big rains, precipitation overwhelms the system. The excess runoff flows across paved areas, collecting contaminants like fuel, pesticides, and refuse — and eventually goes directly into the river. “Any reduction in water hitting the storm drains means it is an equal reduction in sewer overflows during heavy rains,” says Cumberland River Compact’s Mekayle Houghton.

Trees Provide Shade, Improve Air Quality, and Capture & Filter Stormwater

The Nashville team also followed our recommendation and planted over 100 trees on the property that will advance the Root Nashville campaign goal of planting 500,000 trees in Davidson County by 2050.

“USSTC Nashville employees have been great volunteers for the Cumberland River Compact through the years”, according to Mekayle Houghton, Executive Director of the Cumberland River Compact. “Now, USSTC is the first large company in Nashville to voluntarily install rain gardens,” she says. “They lost some parking spaces with this installation, so they educated employees about why they were building the rain gardens.”

Mekayle notes: “They’re doing this just to be good stewards of their property and for Nashville’s environment and watershed.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Cumberland River Compact and how we can work with your business, provide us a little information here to get started.