Duck-River Opportunities Project (DROP) started in 1999 to monitor-&-improve the water quality of the Duck River and its tributaries. Drop was funded by the Duck River Protection Endowment which was created following a court settlement between Dana Corporation and the EPA.
TSRA initially created DROP after John McFadden spoke to TSRA's board of directors in 1999, asking the organization to sponsor his plan to use the fund to improve water quality in the Duck-River watershed. DROP was to be a collaborative effort between the protection fund, TSRA, and project director John McFadden. Marshall Spencer acted as TSRA chair for the project.
With John McFadden, an independent consultant, heading up the project, DROP used the protection fund for its projects. After those funds were depleted, DROP obtained grants from TWRA and other grantors. Under Marshall Spencer’s supervision, TSRA processed the invoices for materials used in all of the site-specific conservation projects in DROP and kept records of grant funds spent for reporting purposes.
Following a verbal agreement with Leslie Colley of The Nature Conservancy, DROP agreed to limit its focus to "the Lower Duck-River watershed", which for that agreement was below Columbia dam.
- A large part of DROP's efforts were in the Spring Hill area, since fast-paced suburban expansion was heavily impacting Duck-River tributaries in that area. DROP mobilized many residents and area volunteers to help with weekend projects. Many of the volunteers used for tree planting and for riverbank stabilization were TSRA members, but eventually the residents took the lead in those projects.
- John McFadden and Marshall Spencer kept an eye on TDOT projects in the watershed and even advised them on how to use best practices to minimize water pollution during construction. The biggest TDOT project monitored was the first phase of the 4-lane expansion of U.S. highway 412 / TN 99 east of Hohenwald in Lewis County. That project is now in its third phase.
- It was through DROP's persistence that fraudulent record-keeping in Mt. Pleasant's sewage-treatment department was discovered. High levels of sewage-related pollutants in Grassy Branch belied what the department's records stated. That eventually led to two federal convictions of department employees.