Chattanooga Creek

While community members cannot alter the historical pollution in Chattanooga Creek, dioxins, pcb’s and creosote mostly bound in the sediments, we can take action against the two biggest pollution problems in the water column: sewage and litter.  The City of Chattanooga is reducing the sewer overflows through constructing holding basins and treating that waste. WaterWays is increasing our work in the watershed to reduce the stormwater REACHING those basins through homeowners, schools, and businesses infiltrating more rainwater on their properties.  Litter is another issue we can tackle!     

When Dr. Andreas Fath discovered alarming levels of microplastics in the Tennessee River in 2018, he created a stir. When we rebranded to WaterWays in 2019, we launched Adopt a Waterway and Randy Wharton and Wild Trails were one of the first adopters but Randy had started doing cleanups WAYYY back around 2009! Wild Trails volunteers have been picking up trash on Chattanooga Creek since 2017!   

We ALL live downstream. Chattanooga Creek flows into the Tennessee River bringing all the macro and microplastics with it. This year, WaterWays received a national grant to help. Working with the City and Wild Trails, we will be installing litter capture devices from Osprey Initiative on the creek, but need to raise funds for the operations and maintenance of the booms…removing the litter, sorting it and gathering data on where it originates. THEN, we can get to the source of the litter to work to reduce it at the source!


WaterWays has been awarded an Urban Waters Grant from the National Wildlife Foundation! Funds will go towards school programs, school outdoor classroom builds, green infrastructure in the Chattanooga Creek Watershed, and the creation of an environmental college for adults.


The Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program focuses on the stewardship and restoration of coastal, wetland, and riparian ecosystems across the country. Its goal is to meet the conservation needs of important species and habitats, providing measurable and meaningful conservation and educational outcomes. The program requires the establishment and/or enhancement of diverse partnerships and an education/outreach component that will help shape and sustain behavior to achieve conservation goals. WaterWays is excited to use some funding towards litter boom installations on Chattanooga Creek.

We are happy to announce that WaterWays is a 2022 recipient of American Water’s Keeping Communities Flowing Grant! This substantial grant will go towards community development initiatives such as outdoor classrooms and field trips, programming for county schools, and job training/ summer jobs in green infrastructure for teens. We are over the moon and excited to get to work! Thank you, American Water, for this generous grant!


This grant will be utilized to educate students and the community, engaging older students in paid environmental internships and improving access to water-based recreation for lower-income neighborhoods.

Our goal is to take action against litter in Chattanooga Creek! You can help solve this litter crisis!

  • Reduce your use of single use plastic and responsibly recycle what you do use (only plastic #’s 1 and 2 are recyclable in our area unless you use the orange bag program). 
  • Volunteer for cleanups or to help us educate school children and adults. 
  • Donate and help us find a long term solution.