Water experts will gather next week in Nashville to talk about the state of stream restoration, at the first national stream restoration conference.
Tennessee’s heavy agricultural economy means the state’s waterways are at risk for increased sediment.
Ken White, chair of the stream restoration nonprofit Resource Institute, said implementing strategies to reduce sediment and restore natural flow to streams improves water quality, wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation.
“More sediment in the rivers is not good,” White explained. “Because every city and county or municipal organization that supplies clean water to a community, they have to pay for more chemicals, it’s harder to clean the water for everybody to use for cooking, drinking, bathing.”
Experts will discuss urban and rural restoration, dam removal, construction, flood plain reconnection, and habitat improvement.
Adam Williams, president of Brushy Fork Environmental Consulting, said residents are increasingly aware of the link between healthy water and reducing erosion and sedimentation, and are feeling the effects of climate-related flooding and extreme weather on local waterways.
“Meeting landowners, knocking on doors and finding willing landowners to participate in grant-funded work,” Williams outlined. “Putting in riparian buffers, explaining to residential, commercial, agricultural landowners in ways to use best management practices to stabilize their creeks.”
White added stream restoration can improve community health, increase property values and spur local economic activity.
“We don’t even hesitate to buy sunscreen before we go to the beach, or we’re out in the sun,” White noted. “The more we can educate water professionals, in order to have quality water for decades to come, we’re gonna have to do a better job of being good stewards and managing what we have now.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than half of rivers and streams in Tennessee are considered impaired.
Photo: Around 58% of waterways were rated poor for conditions related to chemical stressors such as phosphorus, nitrogen, salinity and acidification, according to the latest assessment of the nation’s rivers and streams by the Environmental Protection Agency. (Adobe Stock)