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Four creeks within the Watauga River watershed in Northeast Tennessee are routinely monitored for water quality assessments. To identify sources and monitor remediation, Sinking Creek, Cash Hollow Creek, Buffalo Creek and Boones Creek are monitored for chemical and microbial parameters. These parameters include phosphates, nitrates, BOD and fecal coliforms. Sinking Creek is a tributary of the Watauga River with 10 miles of impaired water. Cash Hollow Creek enters the Watauga River at river mile 11.4 with 3.4 miles of impaired water. Boones Creek contains 18.6 impaired miles while the status of water quality in Buffalo Creek is not yet determined. Agricultural input is a major source of pollution for Sinking and Boones Creek. Cash Hollow Creek is impacted by a combination of sources of which urban runoff is the largest due to storm sewers and land development. Boones, Cash Hollow and Sinking Creeks are considered impaired and are on the state’s 303(d) list due to pathogen loading but only Sinking and Cash Hollow Creek have TMDLs. The seasonal and spatial patterns are more obvious for microbial than for chemical parameters. From 2002 - 2005, 14 stations on Sinking Creek were sampled quarterly. Fecal coliforms were elevated and always greater than 200 CFU/100ml for stations 1 – 5. Due to agricultural land use adjacent to stations 1 – 4, this would be expected. There was also a seasonal trend with higher concentrations found in the fall and spring. Cash Hollow Creek’s 9 stations were sampled monthly from 2002 - 2005. Although very high fecal coliforms concentrations were found, there were no obvious patterns. The 12 stations on Buffalo Creek were sampled quarterly from June 2004 to June 2005. Fecal coliform concentrations were high at station 8, which is adjacent to agricultural land. Boones Creek was sampled monthly from March 2005 to present and no obvious trends have been noted. The objective of this research is to compare patterns in these geographically similar creeks to identify any common patterns associated with various pollution sources. We will discuss the preliminary results and conclusions about the usefulness of these data to accomplish this objective.

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This document was originally published by the ETSU College of Public Health.