Pinpointing Nonpoint Pollution

by Frank R. Perchalski, (Aff.M.ASCE), Remote Sensing Supervisor; Tennessee Valley Authority, Chattanooga, TN,
John M. Higgins, (M.ASCE), Envir. Engr.; Tennessee Valley Authority, Chattanooga, TN,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1988, Vol. 58, Issue 2, Pg. 62-64

Document Type: Feature article


The Tennessee Valley Authority is using aerial photography to locate nonpoint sources of water pollution. These cause most of the water quality problems in the region. Failing septic tanks systems have been found in survey after survey. Animal wastes from livestock operations foul thousands of miles of feeder streams. Mine erosion and siltation, and residual chemicals from innumerable sources have been located. Stereoscopic infrared color aerial photographs are the key source of data. Their analysis identifies potential sources of pollution, septic system problems, groundwater assessments and urban drainage inventories. Efforts are being made to make the photography system more cost effective, although at pennies per acre, it is already an essential complement to conventional data collection techniques.

Subject Headings: Nonpoint pollution | Aerial photography | Water quality | Geomatic surveys | Data collection | Groundwater pollution | Federal government | Septic tanks | Tennessee | United States

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