The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, began a long-term scientific investigation in 1989 to evaluate the effect of agricultural activities on water quality and the effectiveness of agricultural best management practices in the Beaver Creek watershed, West Tennessee. In 1993 as a part of this study, the USGS, in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Shelby County Soil Conservation District, and the Tennessee Soybean Promotion Board, began an evaluation of the physical, chemical, biological and hydrological factors that affect water quality in streams and wetlands, and instream resource-management systems to treat agricultural nonpoint-source runoff and improve water quality. The purpose of this report is to present the results of three studies of stream and wetland investigations and a study on the transport of aldicarb from an agricultural field in the Beaver Creek watershed. A natural bottomland hardwood wetland and an artificially constructed wetland were evaluated as instream resource-management systems. These two studies showed that wetlands are an effective way to improve the quality of agricultural nonpoint-source runoff. The wetlands reduced concentrations and loads of suspended sediments, nutrients, and pesticides in the streams. A third paper documents the influence of riparian vegetation on the biological structure and water quality of a small stream draining an agricultural field. A comparison of the upper reach lined with herbaceous plants and the lower reach with mature woody vegetation showed a more stable biological community structure and Water- quality characteristics in the woody reach than in the herbaceous reach. The water-quality characteristics monitored were pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and specific conductance. The herbaceous reach had a greater diversity and abundance of organisms during spring and early summer, but the abundance dropped by approximately 85 percent during late summer. A fourth study describes the transport of aldicarb and its metabolites--aldicarb sulfoxide and aldicarb sulfone-in runoff at a small stream draining a cotton field. During 1991 to 1995, aldicarb and its metabolites were detected in runoff events. The highest concentrations occurred when aldicarb was applied to the field just hours before a rain storm. Aldicarb was not detectable in runoff a few weeks after application. The metabolites of aldicarb were detectable for 76 days after application. These studies demonstrate streambank vegetation and wetlands have a significant influence on stream water quality. The importance of weather conditions to herbicide application and runoff also is evident. This information can be used by resource managers to sustain and improve our Nation's streams for future generations.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Instream investigations in the Beaver Creek Watershed in West Tennessee, 1991-95
Water-Resources Investigations Report
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