OSMRE / VISTA Team Projects

Harpeth River Watershed Association

Crystal Coldiron

OSMRE / VISTA: Crystal Coldiron
Supervisor: Cooper Breeden
Address: PO Box 1127, Franklin, Tennessee 37027-1127
County: Williamson
Voice Telephone: 615-790-9767
Email: cooperbreeden@harpethriver.org
Web site: www.harpethriver.org
Congressional District: 7th
Bureau: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE)


Harpeth River Watershed Association is a science-based 501(c) 3 non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting the State Scenic Harpeth River and clean water in Tennessee.

About the Surrounding Community

Tennessee was once a national leader in phosphate mining, and as late as 1990 ranked fifth in national production. Production has come primarily from several Middle Tennessee counties that fall within the Harpeth River watershed boundary, including Williamson, Hickman, and Davidson Counties.  The Harpeth River meanders through agricultural, forested, and suburban areas of six counties (Rutherford, Williamson, Davidson, Cheatham, Dickson, and Hickman) in the greater Nashville region until it joins the Cumberland River. The total area of land is 870 square miles. The Harpeth is one of the most popular aquatic recreation destinations in Middle Tennessee and runs through both rural landscapes, including a segment classified as a State Scennic river, and one of the fastest growing regions in the United States. This rapid urbanization has surpassed the capacity of the Harpeth River as a raw resource; both as a drinking water source and as an assimilator of waste discharges. Since 2002, the Harpeth River has been listed on the state of Tennessee’s 303(d) list of impaired waters due to nutrient enrichment (primarily from Phosphorus) and associated low levels of dissolved oxygen during seasonal low summer flows. These impairments are largely driven by urbanization. Many residents living in these zip codes are economically disadvantaged, with the average annual per capita income being 26.62% below national level and 12.87% of the population falling under the poverty line.

Project Overview

The project coordinates community outreach programs to increase awareness and understanding of the watershed, water quality, the river’s biodiversity, and how wastewater discharges and drinking water withdrawals affect the Harpeth River. The OSMRE/VISTA researches issues related to contaminated well water, straight piping, and health hazards associated with subsistence fishing so that the community may lay groundwork to find solutions to the health and environmental problems associated with these issues. The project develops a corps of volunteer citizen-scientists to conduct water sampling and volunteer with Harpeth River Watershed Association on different restoration projects; coordinates with STEM teachers to integrate school lessens to reach the younger generations; holds community meetings to discuss solutions to water quality issues; works with community leaders to facilitate the implementation of a drug take-back program to avoid improper disposal; assesses streams and looks at possible sewage overflows from sewer systems; writes proposals to leverage funding for restoration projects along the Harpeth River, for education programs, and for water quality testing; and holds public information meetings and workshops to encourage and facilitate grassroots efforts to restore watershed degradation.

Sponsors and Partners


Barbara J Mapp Foundation

Tennessee Department of Agriculture

Dan and Margaret Maddox Charitable Trust