Four governments unite for Harpeth River study
By Kerri Bartlett, Assistant Editor
Four city and county governments met at Warner Park Nature Center for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District announcement of feasibility studies of the Cumberland River, Harpeth River and Mill Creek. (From left) Williamson County Community Development Director Joe Horne, Franklin Mayor Ken Moore, Lieutenant Colonel John L. Hudson, Commander and Engineer of USACE, Brentwood Mayor Betsy Crossley, and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean.
As a result of the May 2010 flood, four governments in the surrounding Nashville area – Brentwood, Franklin, Nashville and Williamson County – showed solidarity this week in keeping citizens safe from any future floods and reducing the flood risk.
Local government leaders traveled to Nashville’s Warner Park Nature Center for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announcement that feasibility studies of the Cumberland River, Harpeth River and Mill Creek are underway.
Brentwood Mayor Betsy Crossley, Franklin Mayor Ken Moore and Williamson County Community Development Director Joe Horne, representing County Mayor Rogers Anderson, joined Nashville Mayor Karl Dean in support of the studies and spoke at the press conference.
The project has been initiated under a new Corps process called "Smart Planning" with a goal of completing feasibility studies with shorter time frames and lower costs, according to information released by the USACE.
“It’s not typical to participate with four governments in one study as in the Harpeth River,” noted Lt. Col. John L. Hudson, Commander and Engineer at the press conference.
The four government bodies will partner with the Corps in the funding of the $1.4 million project that will study ways to reduce and prevent flooding along the Harpeth River.
Affecting many in Williamson County, the Harpeth River Watershed, from beginning to end, stretches about 870 square miles in six counties in Middle Tennessee. As part of a reconnaissance report evaluating water resource issues, the feasibility studies are the first step to determine how to reduce threats to life and property caused by flooding.
Moore shared that of the areas in Williamson County that the Harpeth River impacts, Franklin was hardest hit in the May 2010 flood – deemed the 1,000-year flood.
On May 1, rainfall reached 18 inches in some areas of Franklin, and the Harpeth River crested at 35.11’ breaking the old record of 33.6’ recorded on March 13, 1975.
About 449 private structures, of which 85 percent were residential, were damaged. Emergency personnel in Franklin rescued 398 people—and 600 horses that were a part of a national horse show being held at Brownland Farms—on the day of the flood.
Franklin Mayor Ken Moore addressed government and community leaders at the USACE annoucement of a Harpeth River feasibility study Aug. 20 at Warner Park Nature Center in Nashville.
“The Harpeth Watershed is one of great regional and national significance,” Moore said.
“Franklin is currently the largest population center within the watershed and utilizes it as a water source.
“We truly hope to identify both flood risk management and ecosystem restoration solutions within the basin. I commend the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the other agencies for partnering to address the numerous water resource challenges within the basin.”
“There is no solution without the input of our partners,” Hudson said. “That’s the purpose of the feasibility studies.”
Various community leaders from each of the four governments were in attendance.
“This is the first ever study of the entire Harpeth River watershed basin,” said Dorie Bolze, executive director of the Harpeth River Watershed Association.
Mayor Crossley and Horne also gave a speech in support of the studies that affect their communities today.
Although only three homes in Brentwood sustained “substantial damage” (50 percent or more damage to home), Crossley said that homeowners could benefit by planning for the future.
“Because of our low density (1-acre lots), Brentwood did not sustain as much damage as surrounding areas as Franklin and other parts of the county,” Crossley said.
“Additional flood planning and redrawing floodplain lines will benefit homeowners by giving them an opportunity to know if they are in the floodplain before they buy a home,” she said, “as well as an opportunity to buy insurance if they are already located in a floodplain.”
Another major objective of the studies is to protect ecosystems.
“It’s a justifiable solution to flood reduction and restoring aquatic ecosystem. We will hold public workshops to identify problems to shape the direction of the studies.” Hudson said.
Posted on: 8/22/2013