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Watershed initiatives improve water quality across Knox County

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Two local tributaries recently removed from TDEC’s 303(d) list of impaired streams

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 1, 2017) — More than 15 years ago, the Knox County Stormwater Management Department began restoration efforts in five local watersheds: Beaver Creek, Bullrun Creek, Flat Creek, Roseberry Creek and Stock Creek. Because of this work, in 2016 two local tributaries were removed from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s 303(d) list of impaired streams. These creeks are Twin Creek and McCall Branch, both tributaries to Stock Creek in south Knox County.

“It’s a big deal any time you get a creek off the impaired streams list and an even bigger deal when two in the same watershed show significant improvement,” said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. “I’d like to thank our stormwater staff and all the community partners who have worked for years to improve water quality in Knox County. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, we’ll see these streams healthy enough for families to spend the afternoon fishing or swimming in them.”

TDEC assesses creeks using physical and chemical tests, and most in Knox County have been determined to be polluted by excess sediment in the creeks, inadequate vegetative buffers on stream banks, or the presence of E. coli, a bacteria harmful to human health.

Restoration efforts in the Stock Creek watershed started over a decade ago with help from the Water Quality Forum and Stock Creek Watershed Initiative. These partners helped create a watershed management plan to implement best management practices on farms and fix failed septic systems that contribute to increased E. coli levels. Currently, TDEC has removed Stock Creek and all its tributaries – with the exception of Casteel Branch – from the 303(d) list.

Other Knox County watersheds are also showing improvement. These creeks have been removed from the 303(d) list over the last 6 years:

  • 2010 – Stock Creek for siltation and habitat alteration
  • 2012 – Cox Creek in the Beaver Creek Watershed for pathogens
  • 2012 – Knox County portion of Bullrun Creek from Clinton Hwy to the Anderson County line for siltation and habitat alteration
  • 2016 – Twin Creek, a tributary to Stock Creek, for siltation and habitat alteration
  • 2016 – McCall Branch, a tributary to Stock Creek, for siltation and habitat alteration

Though making progress toward improved water quality, none of the Knox County creeks with active restoration initiatives currently meet TDEC’s criteria of being “swimmable and fishable” due to excess levels of one or more of the pollutants mentioned above.

More information on Knox County’s watershed initiatives, including a link to identifying what watershed a particular address is in, is available at http://bit.ly/KnoxWatersheds.

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Knoxville, TN 37902

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