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City of Franklin Waterway Resources

January 11, 2022


The Cumberland River Compact strives to provide clean and abundant water for all life of the Cumberland River basin. Our mission is to enhance the health and enjoyment of the Cumberland River and its tributaries through action, education, and collaboration. 

Franklin is one of the many places across the Cumberland River basin where we do our work. One of the best ways that we work toward our mission of enhancing water quality and health is through engaging communities to care about and take care of the water in their homeplaces. 

Discover the health of your local Franklin waterway!

Learn about the Harpeth River Watershed

Click on the video below!

The Harpeth River watershed includes all lands and waters that drain to the Harpeth River–about 863 square miles! The Harpeth River itself is 125 miles long, originating in headwater streams near the small town of Eagleville. The City of Franklin withdraws water from both the Harpeth River and the Cumberland River, where the Harpeth drains. En route to the Cumberland River, the Harpeth takes on the Little Harpeth, Big Turnbull Creek, and Jones Creek. Keep an eye out for river otters within the watershed. They’re making a comeback, and families of as many as 17 have been spotted! If it’s birding you’re into, head to Radnor. Many species of waterfowl have made the park their winter destination of choice and species include wood duck, canvasback, gadwall, bufflehead, American black duck, and more.

The Harpeth River is not immune to the impacts of pollution. The most common water issues within the Harpeth River Watershed are sediment pollution, altered streamside vegetation, and pathogen pollution. The sources of impairment include agriculture, urban stormwater runoff, and land development.

Thankfully, there are many people dedicated to keeping the Harpeth River clean. The Cumberland River Compact is just one organization that works on water health in Franklin. The Harpeth Conservancy has also done excellent work supporting water quality in the region–you can check out their projects at their website. 

You can find downloadable maps to help you learn more about the Harpeth River watershed and explore the waterways within it, along with water quality impairments and their causes here. 

If you are interested in receiving watershed maps for your community, please contact us:

We’re Looking for Projects!

Through a grant with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s 319 Nonpoint Source Pollution program, we have additional funding for work on or near Watson Branch and North Ewingville Creek in Franklin, TN. If you live or work in the area highlighted in red on the map and are interested in any of the activities below, please let us know! You can email for more information.

  • Riparian Buffer Plantings – Bare root seedling plantings along the creek or river using native tree species. 
  • Minor bank stabilization – Bank stabilization using bioengineering methods (no hard armoring). Bank erosion must be less than 4 feet high.
  • Depave – Remove old parking lots and replace them with greenspace or cut tree/bioretention wells to capture runoff from parking lots. 
  • Stream Clean Ups – Volunteer groups needed to clean up sections of the stream. We are also seeking sites on or near the stream in need of litter clean ups.
  • Educational events – Want to learn more about this project, water quality, and ecosystem restoration? Please contact us if you are interested in a presentation for your group or community.

Schedule a meeting with the Compact


Are you interested in learning more about the Cumberland River Compact and the work we do? Would you like us to come talk at your group or community meeting?


Email to request a staff member to attend your next meeting or event.



Leading your community in improving water quality and the health of the Harpeth River watershed is one of the best ways you can get involved in our work. Our Adopt-A-Stream program works with the City of Franklin to engage volunteers in stewardship work that improves the water quality of our streams and rivers.

If you adopt, you agree to care for a local stream segment for two years. This includes completing one or more stream stewardship activities (like a stream clean-up!) with your group annually. We also have educational stewardship options including nature kits and a stream survey that are great for schools, scouts, and families. 

For more information about Adopt-A-Stream and to view a map of current adoptions and stewardship events, click here. Reach out to for more information.


Participate in Water Week

The Cumberland River Compact partners with the City of Franklin to host Franklin Water Week. Franklin Water Week is a 5-day period in May that is dedicated to bringing businesses and residents together to share the importance of clean and abundant water in the community.


Water Week is April 30th to May 6th, 2023. Find out more information about the event.

Use iCreek/How’s My Waterway

iCreek is an interactive tool developed by the Cumberland River Compact and The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee. The tool will tell you if your neighborhood waterway is healthy. If your waterway is unhealthy, the tool will also list activities you can do and the resources to help your stream.

Find iCreek here

You can also discover the health of your local streams and rivers with the EPA’s How’s My Waterway tool.


Use Native Plants, Install a Rain Garden, or Plant a Tree

Runoff from heavy rain events into streams can cause erosion, flooding, habitat loss, and polluted waterways. You can help slow down and naturally infiltrate rainwater by using native plants in your landscaping or installing a rain garden. Traditional grass has very short roots that do not allow water to soak in. Adding in native plants with long, deep, and fibrous roots can help.

A rain garden is a shallow, depressed garden designed to collect rainwater and allow it time to filter into the ground. The result is cleaner water and less dirty runoff overwhelming our storm systems and waterways.

We have a complete manual about creating your own rain garden that you can find here.

You can also find a how-to and our recommendations of plants to include in your rain garden on our blog. 

You can also plant a tree! Trees help to filter and regulate the flow of stormwater, cleaning our water and reducing flood risk. In addition to these benefits to our water system, they also reduce extreme heat in cities, provide habitat, and help to filter out air pollution, leading to lower rates of respiratory conditions like asthma. 

Reduce your Fertilizer Use

Photo by Oregon State University

You can help improve water quality by reducing your fertilizer use. When fertilizers exceed plant needs, are left out in the open, or are applied just before it rains, nutrients can wash into our waterways over land or seep into groundwater. These increased nutrient concentrations cause nuisance or toxic algae blooms in waterbodies. You can get a soil test to determine the proper amounts and types of nutrients needed for your yard. Learn more.