Effects of Resource Development on Water Quality in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Tennessee and Kentucky

by William P. Carey, US Geological Survey, Nashville, TN, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Water for Resource Development


The South Fork Cumberland River begins in Tennessee at the confluence of the New River and Clear Fork. Strip mining for coal in the New River basin has been ongoing for decades with little reclamation prior to 1977. Water-quality data show that suspended-sediment and dissolved-constituent loads from the New River dominate the water quality in the National River and Recreation Area. The suspended sediment can impart a highly turbid and aesthetically displeasing appearance to the water during low-flow periods which are times of maximum recreational use. High suspended-sediment concentrations are also potentially harmful to the aquatic habitat in the Recreation Area. In addition to the suspended-sediment load, a large supply of coarse material is slowly moving through the channels of the New River basin toward the Recreation Area.

Subject Headings: Water-based recreation | Water quality | Rivers and streams | Suspended sediment | Water pollution | Coal mining | Mines and mining | United States | Tennessee | Kentucky

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