Hydrology of the Cave Springs area near Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee

U.S. Geological Survey, Water-Resources Investigations Report 92-4018

by A.D. Bradfield

This report is available as a pdf below


The hydrology of Cave Springs, the second largest spring in East Tennessee,was investigated from July 1987 to September 1989. Wells near the spring supply about 5 million gallons per day of potable water to people in Hamilton County near Chattanooga. Discharge from the spring averaged about 13.5 cubic feet per second (8.72 million gallons per day) during the study period. Withdrawals by the Hixson Utility District from wells upgradient from the outflow averaged 8.6 cubic feet per second (5.54 million gallons per day). Aquifer tests using wells intersecting a large solution cavity supplying water to the spring showed a drawdown of less than 3 feet with a discharge of 9,000 gallons per minute or 20 cubic feet per second.

Temperature and specific conductance of ground water near the spring outflow were monitored hourly. Temperatures ranged from 13.5 to 18.2 degrees celsius, and fluctuated seasonally in response to climate. Specific-conductance values ranged from 122 to 405 microsiemens per centimeter at 25 degrees Celsius, but were generally between 163 to 185 microsiemensper centimeter.

The drainage area of the basin recharging the spring system was estimated to be 1O squaremiles. A potentiometric map of the recharge basin was developed from water levels measured at domestic and test wells in August 1989. Aquifer tests at five test wells in the study area indicated that specific-capacity values for these wells ranged from 4.1 to 261 gallons per minute per foot of drawdown. Water-quality characteristics of ground water in the area were used in conjunction with potentiometric-surface maps to delineate the approximate area contributing recharge to Cave Springs.

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