Programs / Lowhead Dam Removal Project in Franklin

Pertinent project materials and documents

Final plans finished December 2011

This project’s design is based on Natural Channel Design methods which will replace the 6.2 foot high lowhead dam with a low-profile, in-stream, double cross vane boulder structure to restore the natural “riffle/run and pool” fish habitat in this area, and re-establish natural river flows intended to increase dissolved oxygen levels in the river.  The existing lowhead dam creates a 1.6 mile long pool in the river that has inundated natural riffle/run habitat.  During the summer, oxygen levels have been measured significantly below state standards in the water behind the lowhead dam.  With only a trickle of water over the structure during the summer, fish can not move beyond the lowhead dam.  Other aspects of the plan will stabilize the eroding banks and re-vegetate the streamside zone with native vegetation. The project was conceived by Beaver Creek Hydrology, a civil engineering firm based in Kentucky that specializes in river restoration using Natural Channel Design principles. BCH has numerous similar stream restoration projects in place around the greater Nashville area.  In addition to improving fish habitat, removing fish barriers, and improving water quality, the project is intended to significantly enhance recreational opportunities on the Harpeth in the Franklin area for fishing and paddling. The proposed project will improve public access in this section of the Harpeth and is part of a series of public accesses to be constructed as part of the Harpeth River Blueway.

The project will not affect the flood levels in the river, nor the city's current water withdrawal system.  The removal of the lowhead dam structure will not involve any blasting.  The area will continue to be the location of the TWRA trout stocking in the river during the winter season.  This project will also be the next restoration project undertaken under the framework of the Harpeth River Watershed Initiative between TDEC, Franklin, and Williamson County.  See cover story in Tennessean, August 9, 2011. 


Final Plans Completed December 2011

The graphic above is from final plans which are based on preliminary plans approved by the Steering Committee in May 2011.  All pertinent documents and permits are listed above and can be downloaded. 

Powerpoint presentation to city of Franklin Board of Mayor and Alderman in May 2010.  This has a nice summary of the project with photographs and all the key information on the project including project partners.  The only change is that the concept plan has since been updated to the final plan.    

The TN Wildlife Resources Agency is conducting the fish monitoring for the project. Here is the pre-project fish assessment report based on the field work conducted in June 2010.

TN Wildlife Resources Agency, Fish Community Assessment in Harpeth River Prior to the Removal of the dam in Franklin, TN - April 2011.

TDEC is handling the removal of the lowhead dam itself with project contractor, Environmental Management and Engineering, Inc.

Environmental Management and Engineering, Inc. (EME) provides a full-range of environmental, engineering and design services to public- and private-sector clients.  With offices in Nashville, TN, Athens, AL, Providence, RI and Union City, TN, EME provides services throughout the eastern half of the country and beyond.  EME’s core service is CLIENT SERVICE, which includes such skills as: project management; geology and hydrogeology; site assessments, investigations and remediation; stream restoration/mitigations and fluvial geomorphology; regulatory affairs, permitting and compliance consulting; storm and waste water management; sinkhole repairs; in-plant environmental and health and safety services as well as a variety of other specialized environmental and civil engineering services.   

North State Environmental has been awarded the contract with the city of Franklin to complete all other elements of the Harpeth River Restoration Project.  North State Environmental, Inc. is dedicated to restoring out streams and wetlands to their natural state – beautiful and functional.  Since 1994, North State Environmental, Inc. has partnered with clients such as consulting firms, private mitigation firms, private builders, and government agencies such as Ecological Enhancement Program and Department of Transportation, in a variety of states to protect and restore our streams and wetlands to their natural state.   Working in settings such as urban, rural, universities, parks, and forests, North State Environmental, Inc’s professional and qualified team delivers the best in quality and performance through specialized channel design and installation services.

North State Environmental, Inc. has applied the same values since 1994 allowing us to grow and expand to be a nationwide presence in the field of stream restoration because we love what we do, and we do it right! Darrell and Stephanie Westmoreland (our founders) have always had a love of the outdoors, and take great pride in developing a company that is a driving force in restoring natural beauty in urban and rural settings. One of the primary secrets to the success of North State Environmental, Inc. is the ability to understand what designers and owners want, as well as understanding the real complexity of river and habitat needs. By knowing both where the owner wants to go, and the best way to get there, we are able to excel at getting quality results at a macro level.