Trutta Environmental Solutions

High-Definition Stream Survey of the Falling Water River, TN

Due in part to the growth of the area, sections of Falling Water River have been listed as impaired on the State’s 303(d) list with stormwater runoff, non-point source pollution, sanitary wastewater, and water withdrawals all contributing to its water quality problems. Effectively managing water resource issues associated with the Falling Water River require high quality data of the current conditions in river corridor. This primary goal of this project, funded by Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), was to collect state-of-the-art, high-resolution, geo-referenced longitudinal and cross-sectional surveys on 23 miles the main channel of the Falling Water River, 5 miles of Pigeon Roost Creek and 2.6 miles of Hudgens Creek to enable efficient characterization of stream channel conditions and provide geomorphic data for modeling purposes. We accomplished this goal by completing four main objectives:

  • collecting high-resolution, geo-referenced longitudinal and cross-sectional surveys on the main channel of Falling Water River, Pigeon Roost Creek and Hudgens Creek to document baseline river bank and instream conditions during June/July 2016,
  • producing stream-view HDSS video, classifying habitat and bank condition and creating a database of collected information,
  • analyzing data by creating aquatic habitat GIS layers for depth, habitat type (pool, riffle, run), and left and right bank condition scores, and
  • making assessments and identifying other potential applications of the HDSS results to support river management.

The HDSS project resulted in over 65,000 lines of data covering the survey area. We collected 28 cross-sectional transects to support water management modeling applications. From the longitudinal survey, we assessed the left and right bank condition as a metric of the potential for shoreline erosion. In general, approximately 15% of the stream banks of the Falling Water River were in good or optimal condition. Conversely approximately 26% were in the poor or very poor categories. Most of the Falling Water River system was in average condition. From a distribution perspective, it appears that Hudgens Creek is in poorest overall condition and the upper and lower segments of Falling Water River are in the best condition. We also observed issues associated with losing water reaches, log jams, and livestock management.

The High Definition Stream Survey (HDSS) approach proved to be a successful method to rapidly collect a wide range of useful information about the Falling Water River and the HDSS video of the river system will allow decision makers and other parties to see high-definition video of the streambank conditions of the entire survey area from June/July 2016 and have the high resolution classified data to make specific comparisons for different projects.

Habitat by type for upper portion of Falling Water River and all of Pigeon Roost Creek and Hudgens Creek.