Environmental Group Responds to Middle Tennessee Flood

Nashville, TN (June 19, 2010)- The Sustainable Tennessee coalition will discuss the recent flooding in Middle Tennessee and develop recommendations for long-term actions Tennessee residents can take in response to this crisis at a meeting to be scheduled for August in Nashville. 

“From recommendations concerning development in flood plain areas and smart growth, to techniques for reducing storm water runoff and incorporating green and energy savings methods in the rebuilding of homes and buildings, there is a lot that the environmental community can contribute to the ongoing flood response,” said John McFadden, Executive Director for the Tennessee Environmental Council.   

Sustainable Tennessee was founded in 2007 and created a statewide Sustainability Agenda including the input of a broad coalition of citizens, conservation groups, environmental policy experts, elected officials, and representatives of private businesses, industry, and educational institutions. “The 2010 Sustainable Tennessee Agenda includes many recommendations that would help improve the outcome of future flooding events, and the coalition is looking to expand the dialogue to respond to the issue of flooding and other environmental disasters,” said Jennifer Smith, Tennessee Urban Forestry Council and Sustainable Tennessee member.  

One of the preliminary recommendations of the Sustainable Tennessee coalition is for individuals and businesses to take immediate steps to reduce storm water runoff from their homes and businesses. “After the initial aftermath of the flood, individuals and communities need to re access how we manage our landscapes and where and how we develop the land,” said McFadden. According to a number of national studies compiled by the Environmental Defense Fund, land preservation for flood storage – especially forested landscapes – has an 8:1 dollar savings over manmade flood control structures.  

The Sustainable Tennessee Agenda includes clear goals and objectives that individuals, business and governments can initiate to reduce the damage from flooding like this in the future. Sustainable, low impact development is a priority issue and the Agenda recommends developing and implementing Regional coordinated development plans that address the conservation of natural resources such as the flood plains, streamsides and headwater streams. The Agenda advises the state to intensify its control of the headwater streams as these systems have the ability to absorb floodwater and pollutants during heavy rains.

One of the top Agenda recommendations for citizens is to plant trees. Trees absorb storm water and clean the air. “A 32-foot tall tree intercepting rainfall reduced storm water runoff by 327 gallons,” according to a study published by USDA National Agroforestry Center, Working Trees for Communities, Second Edition 2002. Another report published by the Local Government Commission, Livable Communities and Urban Forest, claims, “Studies that have simulated urban forest effects on storm water report annual runoff reductions of 2-7%.

McFadden added, “There are many more things consumers can do to decrease storm water runoff associated with heavy rain events. Citizens can disconnect their drain pipes from street drains to rain barrels or drain roof tops into their yards, or a rain garden where the water has a chance to be absorbed into the ground. Rain gardens are gardens designed to absorb the water while providing beauty to the landscape.”

The Agenda also discusses the consequences of siltation in our waterways and the importance of maintaining in stream flows. “Siltation is a big source of pollution in our waterways,” said McFadden, “This siltation is devastating for the health of the stream and also displaces a lot of water so damaged streams are more likely to overflow in a flooding event. The Council and a number of the Sustainable Tennessee coalition are doing work to improve the health of our streams. We work on stream bank stabilization, tree planting and other projects on a monthly basis to prevent erosion and repair damaged waterways.”   

Related Resources:
Clarksville Online- Environmental Group Responds to Middle Tennessee Flood