Programs / Franklin Drinking Water Issue


State Issues Stricter Permit to Franklin on Withdrawals from the Harpeth in June 2015


State Issues Stricter Permit to Franklin on Withdrawals from the Harpeth 

The TN Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), City of Franklin, and HRWA announced the issuance of a new state permit with tighter conditions on Franklin's withdrawal of water from the Harpeth.  (see joint press release).   This permit incorporates some key changes HRWA had recommended based on our analyses that will improve protection of the Harpeth and enable better science-based decisions. These include:

  • A new condition that prohibits withdrawals when dissolved oxygen levels in the river are below state standards
  • Establishing a monthly reporting system for compliance review 
  • Installing an accurate measuring system for the river's flow upstream of Franklin's pumps that we hope will be installed as close to August 1 as possible prior to summer low flows.  According to our review of 6 years of city documents provided by Franklin to HRWA,  the city was not basing its operations on a measure of the rivers' flow at the intake.  Instead the city was using river flow readings that are downstream from their withdrawal which TDEC had specifically stated needed to be resolved when the permit was first issued nearly 8 years ago.  (see formal complaint).

Equally Important, scientific understanding of the ecological effects of flow alterations has advanced.  During its review, TDEC stated in joint meetings this spring that the minimum cutoff limit in this permit needs to be analyzed.  As a result, TDEC is funding continued scientific work in establishing river low flow thresholds that will enable the permit conditions to be re-evaluated as soon as the work is available.  This permit also includes a "reopener" clause to enable timely adjustment of the permit based on new information.   (see HRWA permit comments for more.)


Important changes means that there is less river water available than before for the city during the "low flow season," and changes that could further limit withdrawals during the summer could be forthcoming relatively soon.  


The State Permit Issuance for Franklin's Water Withdrawal is NOT an Endorsement of the City's Proposed Plans to Build a New and Larger Drinking Water Plant


TDEC did not review the economic feasibility of the city continuing to have its own drinking water plant. 


  • Go to our web page for details on Franklin's recent vote to expand the drinking water plant (August 25, 2015) and the many issues with this decision.