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Depave at Browns Creek – Nashville, TN


Project Summary

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.

2022 Project Update

One year after the initial volunteer event that transformed the 18,000 square foot parking lot into a green space that improves infiltration and reduce stormwater runoff, the Brown’s Creek depave site is flourishing with native plants and trees.
The site of the former parking lot is now brimming with native vegetation that act as natural filters to absorb stormwater. This helps improve water quality and reduce the severity of future flooding downstream.
Native vegetation grows in former parking lot site along Brown’s Creek
The Compact’s Root Nashville campaign has also contributed to the green space by planting a variety of native tree species in the former parking lot. These trees, planted and maintained by the campaign, contributes to Root Nashville’s goal to plant 500,000 trees across Davidson County by 2050.
Root Nashville tree on Brown’s Creek Depave site
JUNE 2021

Project Tags

Urban Waters