NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Water is a necessity, but many Middle Tennesseans don’t know where the water they use for drinking, cooking, and bathing comes from.

David Whiteside, founder of Tennessee Riverkeepers, said, “Most of Nashville gets their water from the Cumberland River in the tributaries. A lot of people don’t realize that, especially new people who might have moved here.”

Sewage entering into waterways is a growing issue in many local creeks, streams, and rivers. It’s not just the Cumberland River seeing the increase in sewage levels.

Whiteside said the main issue is Nashville and its surrounding communities have seen incredible growth in recent years, but wastewater infrastructure hasn’t kept up.

“The sewage is coming from neglected wastewater treatment infrastructure, sewage pipes, and sewage treatment plants.” He continued, “But, it’s also being made worse by so many people moving to the area, and not making sure that we have the infrastructure properly in place to account for that.”

Older water treatment facilities are also unable to filter out newer pollutants, like plastics, and it’s a growing problem. 

“Certainly, it goes through a water filtration plant, and it’s filtered. But, there are some things that we can’t filter out, and it costs a lot of money to be filtering out the pollution. So, it’s cheaper for the taxpayers and better for our public health in the long term, to try to prevent the pollution from entering our rivers and creeks in the first place,” said Whiteside.

Reducing the amount of sewage entering the water will mean investing more in infrastructure. Many residents worry that means higher taxes. 

Whiteside said it should be possible to make improvements without increasing the tax burden on the residents of Middle Tennessee.

“I don’t like the false choice, that if we want to properly treat our sewage, then our taxes are going to go up. I think that’s politicians just dropping a lazy excuse. This is the 21st century in the United States of America, as taxpayers we should have a reasonable expectation that our sewage is being treated properly, especially in a nice town like Nashville,” said Whiteside.