Water-resources investigations in Tennessee: Programs and activities of the USGS, 1992-1994

U.S. Geological Survey, Open File Report 94-498

by Barbara H. Balthrop, Harold C. Mattraw Jr.

This report is available as a pdf below

A Message from the District Chief

This report is the most recent in a series published about every 2 years that describes the programs and activities of the Tennessee District of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Water Resources Division. The report summarizes the main objectives and status of the projects developed from 1992-94 as part of the cooperative and Federal programs of the USGS in Tennessee. Tennessee is blessed with an abundance of surface and ground water, but the quality and distribution of the water resources throughout the State is not uniform. Also, the demand for and use of water continues to increase, affecting its availability and reducing its quality. Past and current generations considered water an inexhaustible resource with little concern for its protection and conservation. At many areas across Tennessee, sources of pollution to surface and ground waters are present, and will require sizable resources to remedy. This reflects in a decrease in the quality of the water and higher costs to supply increasing water needs that meet quality criteria for a variety of uses.

Some of the many water-resources related problems faced by future generations in Tennessee include:

  • Nonpoint-source pollution of surface waters from several sources including agriculture and urban storm runoff.
  • Acid rain.
  • Increasing water-supply demands, resulting in localized water shortages and the need to develop new sources of supply.
  • Point-source pollution of ground water from industrial and domestic hazardous-waste sites and abandoned mines.
  • Point-source pollution of surface water by waste discharges from sewage treatment plants and industrial facilities.
  • These problems are widespread across the State and include private, State, and Federal lands and facilities. Agricultural activities in West and Middle Tennessee contribute large amounts of sediment and chemicals to runoff. Active and inactive domestic and industrial landfills leach contaminants to aquifers and streams in the karst areas of Middle Tennessee. Sediment and coal spoils decrease the quality of the water in streams throughout East Tennessee, affecting the habitat of critical species such as mussels. Significant efforts and resources will be required to properly define the extent of these problems, and to develop remediation strategies.

    The mission of the Tennessee District of the USGS is to assist local, State, and Federal agencies in collecting needed water-resources data to understand the problems that affect this important resource, and to provide scientific analyses in search of solutions. The projects described in this report are designed with that purpose. The USGS staff is dedicated to work in partnership with local, State, and Federal agencies to meet these goals. I am proud of the dedication, capabilities, and accomplishments of the employees of the Tennessee District as reflected in the summaries provided in this report.

    Harold C. Mattraw, Jr.

    District Chief

    Tennessee District

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