Beaver Creek watershed in West Tennessee includes about 95,000 acres of the Nation's most productive farmland and most highly erodible soils. In 1989 the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, began a study to evaluate the effect of agricultural activities on water quality in the watershed and for best management practices designed to reduce agricultural nonpoint-source pollution. Agrichemical monitoring included testing the soils, ground water, and streams at four farm sites ranging from 27 to 420 acres. Monitoring stations were operated downstream to gain a better understanding of the water chemistry as runoff moved from small ditches into larger streams to the outlet of the Beaver Creek watershed. Prior to the implementation of best management practices at one of the farm study sites, some storms produced an average suspended-sediment concentration of 70,000 milligrams per liter. After the implementation of BMP's, however, the average value never exceeded 7,000 milligrams per liter. No-till crop production was the most effective best management practice for conserving soil on the farm fields tested. A natural bottomland hardwood wetland and a constructed wetland were evaluated as instream resource-management systems. The wetlands improved water quality downstream by acting as a filter and removing a significant amount of nonpoint-source pollution from the agricultural runoff. The constructed wetland reduced the sediment, pesticide, and nutrient load by approximately 50 percent over a 4-month period. The results of the Beaver Creek watershed study have increased the understanding of the effects of agriculture on water resources. Study results also demonstrated that BMP's do protect and improve water quality.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
The Beaver Creek story
U.S. Geological Survey,
2 p., 1 sheet (8 columns) :ill. ;22 x 36 cm. folded to 22 x 9 cm.