Local Canoe & Kayak Rental Companies Hit Hard By Drought
by Heather Graf
FRANKLIN, Tenn. - The intense heat and lack of rain have quickly dried up local waterways and the businesses that depend on them.
Franklin Canoe & Kayak Company offers rental equipment for trips down the Harpeth River. The owner says business was booming, until just a few weeks ago.
"This year, at the beginning of the season - we start in April - people were calling every single day," said Carrie Drury. "And then, boom, the water starts evaporating and drying up, and now we're just now knowing what to do with ourselves anymore."
Drury says the water levels in the Harpeth are now so low, her canoes bottom out almost instantly, and customers end up pushing their boats through the river instead of paddling.
"I don't like to put anyone in the water in these conditions," she said. "It's hard on our boats, it's hard on the equipment. It's not a fun paddle, and if you're bringing small children out and they're having to get out and help pull or walk along these rocks and stuff – it's just not fun."
Drury says the Fourth of July weekend is usually one of her most profitable. Prospective customers have been calling non-stop, hoping to book a trip down.
Each time, though she has to turn them down.
"I have not seen it this bad in a long, long time," she said. "It's a beautiful, scenic paddle, when it's not this low."
As a result, she hasn't been able to book a single trip since mid-May, and says the drought has cost her thousands of dollars in lost business.
What's worse is that Drury knows it won't get better until Franklin gets some rain.
The City of Franklin also depends on the Harpeth River for its drinking water, and hasn't been able to draw from the river in weeks because of low levels. That's why voluntary water restrictions are now in place, city-wide.
NewsChannel5 checked with a few other canoe and kayak rental companies, to see how they're coping. Those further upstream in Kingston Springs and Pegram seem to be doing okay, but told us the best advice is to call ahead and check the river levels, before you show up to book a trip.