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East Hickman Water Reclamation Facility

What Does a Wastewater Reclamation Facility Mean for You?

The Water Authority of Dickson County (WADC) has applied for a permit to build a $40 million water reclamation facility in East Hickman County with a capacity to treat 12 million gallons per day. As part of the application process, WADC will give members of the community a chance to ask questions.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why does WADC need a treatment plant in Hickman County?

WADC operates three wastewater treatment facilities in Dickson and Williamson Counties. Looking at projected growth patterns over the next 20 years shows that it makes sense to add capacity in East Hickman County.  Currently, all Hickman County wastewater is pumped north under the I-40 to WADC’s Jones Creek plant in Dickson County.

Why not just expand the Dickson County plants?

Projecting growth patterns in the region, we believe the area south of 1-40 will present the greatest need for additional wastewater treatment. Treatment plants are centrally built and located where service is needed.

Won’t releasing raw sewage into Lick Creek create problems with flooding and wildlife?

WADC won’t be releasing raw sewage. In fact, we’ll be treating the effluent to EPA and TDEC standards which are designed to protect the creek’s current uses, such as recreation and irrigation. We’ll also be testing compliance with water quality standards daily, with those test results being submitted to TDEC for regulatory oversight.

Why Lick Creek?

Other release points adjacent to high growth areas of the WADC service area don’t have enough water flowing on a regular basis to accommodate the additional flow. Larger rivers like the Harpeth or the Cumberland would raise the cost of the plant because it would require long pipeline systems that make it cost prohibitive.  Releasing the water into the Cumberland would require over 50 miles of new pipeline, 15 stream crossings and digging under I-40, a very expensive undertaking.

Isn’t Lick Creek home to endangered species?

Lick Creek is home to a species of fish known as the Coppercheek Darter which TDEC lists among dozens of species “in need of conservation” but is not listed as a federally “endangered” or “threatened” species. The quality of the effluent from a wastewater treatment facility on Lick Creek will not adversely affect aquatic wildlife, such as the Coppercheek Darter. Opponents have also argued Lick Creek is a trout stream, but it is not recognized by the state of Tennessee as home to any species of naturally reproducing trout.

But TDEC defines Lick Creek as an “exceptional Tennessee water.” Doesn’t that mean something?

The presence of the Coppercheek Darter gives Lick Creek that designation simply because that species is “in need of conservation.” The discharge will not in any way affect that species.  In fact, there are tributaries of Lick Creek, such as Dog Creek, which TDEC has listed as an exceptional Tennessee water but is also classifieds as “impaired.” ETW designation in this case doesn’t apply to water quality.

Won’t a treatment plant make flooding problems along Lick Creek worse?

Lick Creek already floods periodically depending on rainfall. The lowest weekly average flow of Lick Creek measured over a ten-year period, basically drought conditions, is 8 million gallons per day. That means on most days, there is much more than 8 million gallons per day flowing in Lick Creek. WADC is seeking a 12 million gallon per day permit from the state, but that refers to the plant’s capacity, not its daily release. Lick Creek was chosen because its capable of handling the effluent from the facility. The presence of the facility will not make flooding on Lick Creek worse.

Why have you made amendments to the permit application?

WADC amended the application following conversations with TDEC officials. The first amendment focused on certain technical aspects of the application regarding how the pre-treatment program would change if a large industrial facility became a customer. Large industrial facilities are required to pre-treat their effluent to remove harmful chemicals before sending it to the WRF. The other amendment included a more precise location for the discharge point.

Why haven’t we learned about this plan before now?

A lot of engineering studies and creek modeling were needed for the application. When we felt we had sufficient data and a plan to protect Lick Creek’s water quality, we made an application to TDEC. The application process involves public hearings, so the public will have ample opportunity to make their views known to the state of Tennessee. We’re still very early in this process.

The plant doesn’t screen for industrial waste and pharmaceuticals. Won’t those chemicals just be dumped into Lick Creek?

Large industrial users are required to pre-treat any water released from their plants to remove harmful or hazardous chemicals. They’re required to file a pre-treatment plan with the state and WADC before they’re allowed to operate and begin discharging into the system. There are no large-scale pharmaceutical manufacturers currently utilizing the WADC system. Households are advised not to dump old medications into the sewer system, but if that happens, the volume of water flowing through the plant would dilute the active ingredients to the level that they would not be harmful.

Will Hickman County become a dumping site for Dickson and Williamson Counties?  

Looking at population growth patterns in WADC’s 3-county service area, our engineers are able to make reasonable projections of service demand. To suggest the East Hickman WRF would only draw 3% of the wastewater flowing in from Hickman County misinterprets the data provided to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. WADC plans include maintaining treatment capacities at all its other plants, while directing only the flow from areas south of I-40 to the new facility.     


You can return to this page to find additional information about the East Hickman Water Reclamation project and to receive updates about scheduled public hearings and the TDEC approval process. We want to hear from you.

East Hickman Press Release 4.1.22