A study was conducted in the upper Little Tennessee River basin to characterize suspended-sediment and bed-load sediment transport into Lake Emory from the main stem and two major tributaries--Cartoogechaye Creek and the Cullasaja River. Suspended-sediment concentrations in the discharge from Lake Emory also were measured. Weekly samples for suspended-sediment concentration were collected between November 2000 and November 2001, and periodic samples were collected during targeted high-flow events. Suspended-sediment samples were collected during stormwater runoff conditions for analysis of particle-size distribution. Three bed-load samples were collected at each stream site.
The greatest annual load (5,700 metric tons) and yield (18 metric tons per square kilometer) of suspended sediment during the study period were in the Little Tennessee River near Riverside, North Carolina. Much smaller annual yields were calculated for Lake Emory, the Cullasaja River, and Cartoogechaye Creek (5,5, and 7 metric tons per square kilometer, respectively). Drought conditions during the study period appear to have been a factor in the small loads compared to loads measured in the same area in the 1970's. The annual-mean streamflow at the Little Tennessee River at Prentiss during 2001 was about 50 percent of the long-term annual-mean streamflow (1944-2001). High-flow events carry most of the annual sediment load.