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Browns Creek DePave Project in Nashville, TN


JUNE 2021

The Cumberland River Compact worked to address stormwater runoff to Browns Creek in Nashville, TN across from the Nashville Fairgrounds with a depave project where volunteers removed unused pavement.
Asphalt, concrete, sheet metal, and other hard, impervious surfaces surround us in urban areas, preventing rainfall and runoff from soaking into the ground and instead, directing it all straight into our storm drains and streams. The result? Massive influxes of rainwater in our rivers and streams during rain events, which cause flooding and wash pollutants directly into our waterways.

The Depave program takes direct action to address this issue by removing old, unneeded parking lots and other impervious surfaces to improve infiltration and reduce stormwater runoff.

In partnership with Nashville’s Metro Water Services, the Cumberland River Compact depaved a degrading 18,000 square foot parking lot from a parcel directly adjacent to Browns Creek. This creek sits in a heavily urbanized area and is currently impaired for pathogens, phosphorus, nitrogen, habitat alterations, and oil/grease. The parcel, owned by Metro Water Services, sits in a FEMA floodway and cannot be used for future development; now, instead the site is being converted to a large, vegetated space that will absorb stormwater and help reduce the severity of future flooding downstream. The 18,000 square feet of asphalt was removed with the help of over 90 volunteers from the community and from Holy Family Catholic Church. This 4-day effort resulted in the removal of over 147,000 lbs (almost 74 tons!) of asphalt and other impervious surfaces.

The Browns Creek Depave project is part of a larger 319 Nonpoint Source Pollution grant administered by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. The goal of this grant is to implement green infrastructure and restore habitat in the Browns Creek Watershed as outlined in a watershed planning document. These planning efforts are crucial in coordinating these projects together, working collaboratively to improve the health of Browns Creek as opposed to tackling problems in a piece-meal approach.