Cumberland River Compact

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Who We Are

Founded in 1997, The Cumberland River Compact is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization with a mission to enhance the water quality of the Cumberland River and its tributaries through education and by promoting cooperation among citizens, businesses, and agencies in Kentucky and Tennessee. We believe that communities can have both a strong economy and a healthy environment. Our goal is to be a trusted source of information on water issues and to facilitate cooperation among all stakeholders to ensure that our rivers and streams continue to provide us with clean water, bountiful crops, healthy fisheries, and abundant recreational opportunities.

Where we work

The Cumberland River winds for over 696 miles through Kentucky and Tennessee. The land through which it flows is home to some of the greatest biodiversity in the United States. Its course touches 40 counties in Tennessee and 32 in Kentucky, with a combined population of more than 2,000,000. Many of the same problems that plague other watersheds (high levels of erosion, sedimentation, a variety of point and non-point issues) are gaining a foothold here. We work throughout the 18,000 square miles of the Cumberland River Basin to address those problems.


Watershed Program The Watershed Program was the first initiative developed by the Compact. Its goal is to establish community groups in each of the 14 sub-watersheds within the Cumberland River Basin. The Compact provides assistance for each newly formed watershed association, as well as education and outreach programs for the general public. To date, 7 organizations have been formed!

Watershed Program Objectives • Foster growth and development of watershed associations in the Cumberland River Basin • Provide educational opportunities for the Basin • Implement outreach programs in the Basin

Building Outside the Box (BOB) Program

The Building Outside the Box (BOB) program promotes sustainable building practices that enhance water quality and quantity. BOB works to educate all stakeholders in the building process from the bankers to the bricklayers.

BOB Program Objectives • Complete at least three model development sites, including better building practices and stream restoration • Provide education to builders and developers through a variety of means, including an educational website and educational workshops • Foster partnerships with green builders and spotlight success stories • Work to remove several streams from the federal impaired water body list

Local Officials Community Water Education Program

A number of studies have shown that land use decisions have a direct influence on the quality of local streams, lakes, and rivers, and local officials in the Cumberland Basin have told the Compact that they want information to aid them in making wise choices. The Local Officials Education Program seeks to bring high-quality water education to elected and appointed officials in the Basin, as well as local government staff and the general public.

Local Officials Education Program Objectives • Meet with local officials and staff at cities and counties in the Cumberland Basin to introduce them to the Compact and assess their capacity to address water quality concerns • Bring water education classes to local officials and staff in a manner that is convenient for them • Host educational seminars to build credibility for the Program and establish new contacts in the region

Project Blue Streams (New Initiative in 2007)

Smaller headwater streams in the Basin are often neglected by area landowners, but these streams can have great economic, cultural, and environmental value. Project Blue Streams encourages local landowners to preserve and improve small stream habitat on their properties.

Project Blue Streams Program Objectives • Maintain quality on streams that remain in good health • Restore impaired streams through physical restoration efforts • Engage and encourage local leaders, residents, and builders to become stewards of local streams and recognize their value • Provide education and outreach throughout restoration process

For more information about the Compact or its many programs, contact us at (615) 837-1151 or email at You may also visit our website at Cumberland River Compact

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