Sinking Creek

ADOPTED BY: Sinking Creek Restoration Coalition
PROGRAM: Adopt-A-Stream

The purple boundary in the map below outlines Sinking Creek's watershed. When it rains, water that falls within this boundary eventually finds its way to the creek. This section of Sinking Creek is directly impacted by all land within the purple drainage boundary. The blue line represents Sinking Creek, while the highlighted yellow portion is the section adopted by Sinking Creek Restoration Coalition. Stewardship activities performed on land or water anywhere within these purple watershed boundaries will improve the condition of Sinking Creek.

Information on this page was compiled using resources from iCreek

Sinking Creek is considered unhealthy by the State of Tennessee as a result of three problems — Altered Streamside Vegetation, Pathogens, and Nutrients.

Photo by Jed Grubbs

Photo by Jed Grubbs

Altered Streamside Vegetation negatively impacts instream and streamside habitat and destabilizes stream banks. It involves the removal or modification of a waterway's naturally vegetated banks. Common causes of this type of impairment include the removal of trees from stream banks and/or the mowing of stream banks. In agricultural areas, destabilization can result from animals grazing on and trampling streamside vegetation.

Pathogens indicate that water is contaminated by human or animal waste. In urban areas, pathogens end up in creeks when dog owners don’t pick up their pet’s waste or when sewer lines leak. Pathogens typically become a problem during and after heavy rainfall, when storms wash pathogens from pet waste off yards and parks from into our waterways or overwhelm sewer infrastructure.

Photo by John Moran

Photo by John Moran

Nutrient issues in streams result from over-fertilized urban lawns and gardens. Other sources include pet waste, municipal wastewater systems, and dishwashing detergent. When fertilizers exceed plant needs, are left out in the open, or are applied just before it rains, nutrients can wash into our waterways over land or seep into groundwater. High concentrations of nutrients, found in human and pet waste, can contaminate our waters via leaking sewer lines or neglected pet waste. Increased nutrient concentrations cause nuisance or toxic algae blooms in waterbodies, killing fish and aquatic life. High concentrations of nutrients must also be filtered from our drinking water, since they can cause methemoglobinemia, also known as blue baby syndrome.


Plant and animal species within your watershed depend on clean water for survival. The work you do to improve water quality in your watershed benefits not only the people in your watershed, but also the many plant and animals that live there, as well. When iNaturalist users observe plants and animals species in your watershed they will display below. You can create your own iNaturalist account to start recording observed species in your adopted stream's watershed.




There are many things you can do to help your creek. We've got some ideas and resources below, but don't be limited to these alone. If you've got ideas for other activities or questions in general, feel free to contact the Cumberland River Compact

Stones River Watershed Association plays a big role in stewarding water resources in your creek. Connecting with them to do activities below or to come up with other stewardship activities is highly recommended. 

  • Remember to always ensure you have landowner permission before doing stewardship work on public or private land. Feel free to contact the Compact, if you need help obtaining permission.  
  • Please give the Compact two weeks notice prior to any planned stewardship activity. 
  • Want a waiver for volunteers to fill out? You can create your own from a generic waiver here


Schedule a walk/cleanup.
There's no better way to get to know your creek, than by visiting it in person. Whether your wading, paddling, or walking alongside it, you'll end up with a much better sense of where it's healthy and where it's hurting if you pay it a visit! Consider combining a cleanup with a scouting effort. While your picking up trash, photograph or record the locations of destabilized banks, needed streamside vegetation, invasive species, dams, or other potential water quality concerns. Always ensure you have permission from landowners before doing stewardship on private or public property. Potential cleanup sites include Oaklands Wetlands (public), where the stream crosses Memorial Blvd (private), and where the stream crosses Northfield Blvd (private). The Compact can help obtain permissions at these sites. Resources include:

  • Supplies (trash bags and gloves) for cleanups - Cumberland River Compact (Contact / 615-837-1151)
  • Example Stream Survey Guidelines - Cumberland River Compact
  • Consolidated Litter Pickup - City of Murfreesboro Stormwater Department can pick up consolidated litter if given two weeks notice. The Compact can serve as a liaison in obtaining this service. 
  • Report Litter (If near road) - TN Department of Transportation

Install "Drains to Stream" markers on storm drains
Storm drains in your watershed drain water (as well as any litter or pollutants) directly to your waterway. Installing these markers is a great way to educate the public and prevent harmful dumping. 

Photo by Jordan Meeter

Photo by Jordan Meeter

Plant (or allow for) natural growth near your waterway. Remove invasive species. 
If permission from property owners along the waterway can be obtained, organize a planting of native trees, bushes, and groundcover. You could combine the event with invasive removals. Allowing a 35′ to 100′ no mow zone on a streams banks can filter pollutants before they reach our waterways and provide other water quality benefits that far exceed those of a mowed lawn. Natives plants also require less watering and fertilizer. Resources include:

If you can't do a planting, consider distributing free trees and educational information to the public somewhere in your adopted segment's watershed. Resources include:

Observe species and/or organize a "Bioblitz" in your watershed.
Work with the Cumberland River Compact and use the mobile app iNaturalist to collect species data in your watershed.  You can also schedule a bioblitz, where your group observes and records species over a set time period of time, gaining insight into the many flora and fauna that rely on water within your adopted watershed. All you need is a phone! When you make iNaturalist observations, these observations can become independently verified as "research-quality data" and can contribute to the larger scientific community. 

2018's City Nature Challenge will be April 27 - May 1. This event is a fun way to obtain species data in your watershed and engage with the larger region within a regional BioBlitz. Contact the Cumberland River Compact for help getting set up on iNaturalist or to participate in the City Nature Challenge. 

Distribute stewardship and educational materials in a public place for your waterway.
Consider passing out free soil sampling kits, pet waste bags, native wildflower seeds, and educational materials somewhere popular or public in the watershed. Soil sampling kits will help address nutrient issues from over-fertilized lawns, pet waste bags will address pathogen problems, and native wildflowers will help address altered streamside vegetation. 

  • Soil Test Mailers (Courtesy of UT Soil, Plant and Pest Center), Pet Waste Bags, Native Wildflowers - Cumberland River Compact (Contact / 615-837-1151)

Support public funding of water treatment plants and sewer infrastructure, as well as stormwater fees. Report sewer leakages and other water quality concerns. 
Water related infrastructure is expensive and obtaining funding for necessary sewer and water treatment improvements is often a challenge for communities. However, public dollars are critical to our water quality and public health. Support your community's efforts to properly maintain it's water related infrastructure. Resources include: 

Organize with others in your community. Make your voices heard and your votes count.
Participate in community planning efforts and advocate for relevant measures that improve or protect water quality. Write to your elected official or to the media and let them know this is a concern or invite them to speak about the impairment with your home-owners association. When elections come up, vote for candidates who will address the problem and hold them accountable to their promises. Support local watershed / environmental associations. Resources include: 

Spread the word!
Do your neighbors, family, or roommates know about the problem? Now that you know how to be an effective steward, enlist the help of others in your neighborhood. Share iCreek or resources within it with your neighbors and encourage them to join the effort to protect your creek.

- Share iCreek on Facebook -



The Cumberland River Compact facilitates this stream adoption.


Additional support provided by the City of Murfreesboro