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Clarksville, TN Waterway Resources

September 2, 2022

Clarksville, TN is one of the many places across the Cumberland River basin where the Cumberland River does our work. 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. 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 Clarksville waterway!

Your Watersheds

The Lower Cumberland watershed (AKA Lake Barkley watershed) is the most downstream watershed of the Cumberland River basin. It is home to the Cumberland River basin’s outlet, where water from 18,000 square miles of basin land and 22,000 miles of basin streams and rivers empty into the Ohio River. The watershed itself is 2,332 square miles – just shy of being the largest watershed in the basin.

It is home to more surface water and more wetlands than any other watershed in the Cumberland River basin. The watershed is rich in biodiversity. Barnett’s Woods alone is home to 443 vascular plant species, including one of only 13 known populations of Price’s potato bean.

The Lower Cumberland is also impacted by water pollution. The most common water issues within the Lower Cumberland Watershed are sediment pollution, nutrients, and pathogen pollution. The sources of impairment include agriculture, urban stormwater runoff, and land development.

The Red River Watershed is distinctive in many ways. It has less surface water and less forest per square mile than any other watershed in the Cumberland River basin. It is home to more cropland than other basin watershed. Tobacco farming has a rich, centuries-old history in the area, and farmers grow corn, soybeans, and grain as well. Cattle, chicken, and egg production are also prevalent. At one time, there was a great deal of bluestem prairie in the Red River watershed, but today there is less native grassland than any other watershed in the basin.

Like other watersheds in the basin, an abundance of wildlife relies on the Red’s water resources. Even within the watershed’s water-sculpted caves and caverns, there are fascinating species such as translucent “blind cave crayfish” and endangered gray bats.

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

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

Here’s How You Can Help Your Local Waterway

Plant a Rain Garden

Runoff from heavy rain events into streams can cause erosion, flooding, habitat loss, and polluted waterways. 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.

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. 

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. 

Limit Fertilizer

Photo by Oregon State University

Fertilizers, pesticides, and other pollutants can attach themselves to soil particles and find their way to your creek. This can lead to a nutrient impairment in the waterway and lead to things like harmful algal blooms. You can get a soil test by UT Extension so you can determine the specific fertilizer needs for your lawn.

Disconnect Your Downspout

Photo by City of Seattle

When the runoff from your roof flows into your gutters, down your downspouts, and out to a driveway or road, it carries harmful pollution with it. You can disconnect your downspout to let it naturally flow into your yard. Better yet, you can connect your downspout to a rain garden or rain barrel!


Leading your community in improving water quality and the health of the Red River watershed is one of the best ways you can get involved in our work. Our Adopt-A-Stream program engages 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 will create a stewardship page for your adoption that includes information about the health of your stream and its watershed, as well as stewardship ideas and resources.

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

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.


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 the West Fork of the Red River. If you live or work in the area highlighted in pink and are interested in installing a rain garden, adding pet waste stations, or planting along the streams, please let us know! You can email