Programs / Franklin Drinking Water Issue


TDEC Issues tighter permit in 2013; HRWA and City of Franklin Appeal



The state, TDEC, recently revised the limits on the city for withdrawing water from the Harpeth.  The state permit lasts for 5 years.  During this review, the state reduced the percentage withdrawal from 20% to 15% based on updated scientific review of water withdrawals around the world.  In addition, the permit specifies measuring the river's flow before the intake, having that data available on the internet similar to the other gages on the river, and reporting the city's withdrawals monthly.    

The prior permit also required the removal of the lowhead dam if feasible.  That nationally recognized project was completed in the summer of 2012.  The photo shows the river in typical low flow with no stagnant algae pools where the lowhead dam used to be.  See details on the Harpeth River Restoration and Lowhead Dam Removal project and the time lapse from the DAM CAM.  

Fall 2013: The City of Franklin appealed the permit in October and so did HRWA. 

In the spring of 2014 all parties agreed to dismiss the permit appeals. TDEC has started the process over as of July 2014, when they issued a public notice for comments on the city's old 2012 application.

TDEC 2013 ARAP permit:

HRWA comments to TDEC on draft permit:

HRWA permit appeal on 2013 ARAP permit:

The original permit application in 2007 was based on the city’s proposal to increase its drinking water plant’s current capacity of 2.1 MGD (million gallons per day) to 4 MGD.  This related to an increase in pump capacity from 5,600 gpm to 7,800 gpm or 11.2 MGD.  Since the permit’s issues in 2007, the city has not increased the capacity of its drinking water plant nor increased the pump capacity from the river.  In December 2012, the city approved a contract to design a new plant at the current 2.1 MGD capacity.  The design is to accommodate a possible future expansion to 4 MGD if approved by the City Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BOMA).  In April 2012, BOMA did not approve an expansion in the drinking water plant’s production capacity beyond its current size.

TIME TO DECIDE if it is worth the cost to have a secondary source of drinking water from the Harpeth.

Now that the new permit conditions are available that reduce further the amount of water from the Harpeth, the city aldermen will once again evaluate (for the third time) whether to keep using the river as a secondary source or not.  The city gets most of its drinking water from the Cumberland River via Harpeth Valley Utility District, which provides 100% of the city's water during the dry summer depending on the conditions.  The Harpeth has NEVER been a primary source of drinking water for the city because it is simply too small.