West Nashville residents say sewer project drained stream

Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 2:14pm

Six West Nashville residents are suing Harpeth Valley Utility District claiming construction of a sewer project dried up a stream running along their properties.

Steve and Diane Hawkins, Kenneth and Lisa Elam, Ira Vaughn and Victoria Hawkins claim that a dredging project to install sewer lines under Overall Creek violated the federal Clean Water Act, caused a nuisance and damaged their properties.

Overall Creek is in West Nashville near Old Charlotte Pike and River Road.

According to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in the federal district court in Nashville, a five-year building permit was issued on June 26, 2003, to HVUD with the requirement that the project “may not impair the usefulness of the stream for uses including fish, aquatic life, livestock, watering, recreation, irrigation or wildlife.”

After the project was completed, however, residents noticed a reduced flow of water in the stream.

“The facts are that the stream bed is dry in long stretches downstream from the (construction) and the loss of continuous, seasonable historic flow has made it unusable for livestock, irrigation, wildlife, recreation and caused loss of aquatic life,” the lawsuit states.

Attempts to reach an HVUD spokesman for comment were not immediately successful.

The complaint claims that officials from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation looked at the stream but couldn’t determine the cause. At first, government officials thought the low flow of water could be related to heavy drought in 2007 and 2008.

But even two years after the drought, the residents claim the spring didn’t return, despite heavy rains.

The plaintiffs ask for the damage to be corrected by HVUD and for $150,000 per plaintiff to cover the nuisance and property damage.

HVUD provides water and wastewater services to more than 13,000 homes in Davidson, Williamson and Cheatham counties. The district is overseen by TDEC and other state and federal agencies.

3 Comments on this post:

By: Loner on 12/30/11 at 7:10

Maybe the flow of the stream was being augmented by sewage for years...when they fixed the problem, the volume of the stream's flow decreased....is the water cleaner now, but reduced in volume? That's the key question here.

Sounds like the angry home-owners are working a scam here...trying to put public money into their private pockets....sounds like a bogus deal to me.

By: Left-of-Local on 12/30/11 at 9:15

It is entirely believable that some low-bid contractor would screw up nature. It is also reasonable to assume these people don't know jack about said nature, and neither do their lawyers. So yeah... more to know.

By: Susustra on 12/30/11 at 11:06

What is most plausible - is that if these families have been living on this land a long time, and knowing the area as I do, I am betting they have, they know that the problem is not sewage but incompetence and lack of oversight. I know my parent's live stock would be severely effected if their stream dried up - and during the drought it did - but recently after all the rain, it has been fine.

You have to own livestock and and land to understand why this is important.