The Cumberland Plateau aquifer system consists of Pennsylvanian sandstones, conglomerates, shales, and coals which underlie the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. Major water-bearing zones occur within the sandstones and conglomerates in interconnected fractures. The water-bearing formations are separated by shale and siltstone that retard the vertical circulation of ground water. The Pennington Formation serves as the base of this aquifer system and is an effective confining unit.
The Cumberland Plateau aquifer system is an important water source for the Cumberland Plateau. Wells and springs from the aquifer system supply most of the rural domestic and public drinking-water supplies. Water from wells drilled into the Cumberland Plateau aquifer system is generally of good to excellent quality. Of the 32 water-quality analyses on file from this aquifer, only 2 had dissolved-solids concentrations greater than 500 milligrams per liter, and about three-fourths had less than 200 milligrams per liter dissolved solids. However, no samples from depths greater than 300 feet below land surface have been recorded. Ground water from locations where the sandstones are buried deeply, such as the Wartburg basin, may contain dissolved-solids concentrations greater than 1,000 milligrams per liter.