One River. Three Goals.

Since our founding in 1997, we have helped improve the quality of the Basin’s water; and, by doing so, improved the quality of life for its communities. There is still much to be done, and we intend to do it.

Our work involves three goals:

  1. TEACH Cumberland River Basin communities to value water. We train and provide communities with resources to assess their forest, water and climate impacts, and to develop initiatives that benefit their social, environmental and economic resilience.
  2. PROTECT our water through sound land practices. The way we treat our land has a direct impact on the quality of our water. We work with everyone – from farmers to city dwellers – to promote sound land practices.
  3. CONNECT Basin residents to recreational opportunities. Nothing reinforces the value of water more than being near it and playing in it. Our annual Catfish Rodeo, Cumberland River Dragon Boat Festival and numerous outings remind everyone that water is not only a critical component to a healthy environment, but is also fun for the whole family.


Did you know that Tennessee spends around 11 million dollars in litter pickup each year!? While we see much of that litter in our streets and alongside our roads, a surprising amount ends up in our local waterways and even in our backyards.

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Creek Critters

Creek Critters is an interactive educational program for elementary school students, where we bring the creek to you! The goal of our Creek Critters program is to get kids interested in science and in our precious water resources at a young age.

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Dam Removal and Stream Restoration

In Nashville, it may come as a surprise that a complete picture of the location and number of dams does not even exist. Working with area volunteers, we are walking streams and inventorying dams. In so doing, we’re taking the first steps towards the eventual removal of those dams that are outdated and unnecessarily impacting water quality. With your help we can begin to reconnect our waterways!

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Life Support Curriculum

A new water conservation curriculum created by water resource professionals for students in grades 4-12. Easy to understand text, illustrations, puzzles, and lab activities help students explore the water cycle, watersheds, and the work people do to provide clean water for our use while protecting wildlife. The Compact provides this resource for free for classroom teachers, non-formal educators, and home school groups.  Thank you to the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts for their partnership and support of this program.

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Rain Barrel Sales

A rain barrel is a system that collects and stores rainwater from the rooftop that would otherwise be lost to runoff and be diverted to our neighborhood streams and storm drains. You may be surprised by the amount of water you can harvest: one inch of rain on 1,000 square feet of rooftop creates over 600 gallons of water!

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Riparian Buffer Plantings

A riparian buffer is a vegetated area (a “buffer strip”) near a stream, which helps shade and partially protect a stream from the impact of adjacent land uses. It plays a key role in increasing water quality in associated streams, rivers, and lakes. Click link to learn more.

River Talks

Starting in April 2014, the Cumberland River Compact began hosting River Talks: An Educational Series at the Cumberland River Center.  River Talks encompasses five different lecture and event series spanning a wide range of topics, from history to environmental policy and more.

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Stormwater Model

The stormwater model allows children to learn about how urban development, if not properly managed, can contribute to flooding.  The Compact provides demonstrations of this interactive, kid-friendly model at many of our annual events, and also provides demonstrations throughout the summer in Cumberland Park.

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Street Trees

The Cumberland River Compact plants hundreds of trees every year – big trees and seedlings – along roadways and streams. Trees are the least expensive, most impactful tool we have to improve water quality. Trees shade streams and keep the water cool for fish and macro-invertebrates. A robust urban tree canopy slows the rain and prevents stormwater runoff from carrying pollutants to streams. Tree roots also hold dirt and prevent erosion. As the Chinese saying goes, ”The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today!”

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Water for Schools

The Compact is partnering with Metro Nashville Public Schools to provide cisterns for collecting rainwater from school rooftops throughout Davidson County.  This rainwater is used to water school vegetable and flower gardens, providing students with a valuable opportunity for learning about water sources and conservation.

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Water Recreation

The Compact supports and organizes various water recreation events and outings. From  providing water safety support for the Music City Triathlon andStand Up Paddle Board Races in downtown Nashville on the Cumberland, to organizing paddling trips with Paddle Adventures Unlimited, the Compact strives to get as many folks on the water as possible!  While our offices are based in downtown Nashville, our work extends throughout the basin – you can frequently find the Compact staff and volunteers exploring streams all over the basin. Click link to learn more.

Climate Resiliency

Proactive actions provide good risk management, avoid costs, and help ensure that during our region’s rapid we maintain the natural components of resiliency- tree canopy, headwater streams with natural floodplains and buffer zones, local food production, and open space for public health, safety, recreation, and quality of life. The Compact is moving the basin toward resilience in collaboration with Climate Solutions University, The Nashville Area MPO, and others using climate resilience education, planning, policies and practices.

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Dam Inventory

What did the fish say when he ran into a wall? DAM. You may be saying the same thing if you walk a stream for the Compact. Many area dams no longer serve their intended purpose, but obstruct aquatic species passage. All alter aquatic habitat and degrade water quality. Surprisingly, a complete picture of the location and number of dams in Nashville does not yet exist. By helping us inventory area dams, our volunteers are taking the first steps towards the eventual removal of unnecessary dams. With your help we can begin to reconnect our waterways and improve water quality!

Green Alley Project

The Cumberland River Compact’s Green Alley project is transforming alleys from asphalt stormwater conveyances that transport pollution to our most vulnerable streams into areas that percolate and clean polluted stormwater, thereby improving water quality throughout the city.

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Mansker Creek Watershed Restoration Project

One of the Compact’s newest projects is our Mansker Creek Restoration Project.  This project is supported by the EPA through the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and is being conducted in collaboration with the City of Goodlettsville.  The project will be part of a multi-year effort to restore the health of Mansker Creek, which is polluted with sediment, pathogens, and high stormwater volumes.

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Rain Gardens

We work with the public to build rain gardens in yards, at schools, churches, parks, and businesses. Rain gardens can capture and percolate tens of thousands of gallons of stormwater a year. This prevents the transport of pollutants into our waterways. The Cumberland River Compact hosts classes, offers site visits, and organizes volunteer groups to build rain gardens. 

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River Cleanup

A new tradition began in 2014 – Spring Cleaning. On this first Saturday of April, the Cumberland River Compact organizes over 20 simultaneous stream clean-ups. During the first annual spring clean-up, a volunteer task force of 200 pulled 18 tons of debris from small tributary streams to the Cumberland River.

Stormwater Management Retrofits

Because our understanding of urban water pollution and stormwater management is always improving, the Compact embraces opportunities implement state of the art technologies. Most recently a Compact project redesigned a Nashville Zoo detention pond with native species, berms designed to maximize infiltration, flow velocity control structures and a layered use of space that will soon accommodate a grazing elk exhibit.  This retrofit of existing stormwater management provided the engineering community with examples of environmentally progressive practices for preventing urban water pollution and restoring the health of our urban streams for people and for nature.

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Sugartree Creek Restoration Project

The Cumberland River Compact and its partners, Metro Water Services and the Nature Conservancy, Tennessee Chapter are working in Sugartree Creek to establish a model for urban stream mediation. The goal of our project is to implement newly designed EPA software that determines optimum locations for water quality projects and apply this to Sugartree Creek.

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Waterfest is a free, one-day family festival all about celebrating and connecting children to our local waters. Our goal is to raise awareness about the importance of water quality in our watershed through fun and engaging environmental-based activities suitable for the entire family. We believe environmental awareness is an important element of community knowledge and contributes to environmentally friendly and healthy behaviors later in life. Join us this year for a dance party, prize giveaways, water slides, trivia, and much more!

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