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Water-Supply Paper 2350 (Tennessee Section)

WSP 2350. Hutson, S.S., 1990, Tennessee--Water supply and use, in Carr, J.E., Chase, E.B., Paulson, R.W., and Moody, D.W., comps., National water summary 1987--hydrologic events and water supply and use: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 2350, p. 467-474.


Tennessee has abundant surface- and ground-water resources. The average annual precipitation is 50 inches, which is among the largest in the Nation (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1968). A significant part of the precipitation is captured in a vast network of reservoirs that has a storage capacity of 8.1 million acre-ft (acre-feet). In addition, about 20 percent of the precipitation infiltrates into the ground to recharge the State's aquifers (Zurawski, 1978). During 1985, the quantity of freshwater withdrawn from rivers, streams, and aquifers was about 8,450 Mgal/d (million gallons per day), or 1,760 gal/d (gallons per day) per capita. About 275 Mgal/d of the total withdrawals was consumed and 8,180 Mgal/d was returned to natural water sources. All withdrawals in Tennessee are freshwater.

Surface water is the principal supply for the central and eastern parts of the State, where major urban, industrial, and agricultural centers are located; these areas are characterized by limited ground-water resources. In contrast, the western part of the State is supplied by abundant ground-water resources. Memphis, the largest urban area in the State, and major industrial and agricultural activities in western Tennessee are supplied by ground water. Western Tennessee is underlain by several extensive and productive aquifers, the most important being the Tertiary sand aquifer. Withdrawals from this aquifer in 1985 were 272 Mgal/d; yields of individual wells were as large as 2,000 gallons per minute.

Water withdrawals during 1985 for domestic, commercial, industrial, and mining uses were 2,310 Mgal/d, of which 240 Mgal/d (10.7 percent) was consumed. About 6,060 Mgal/d was withdrawn for thermoelectric power generation; more than 99 percent of that was returned to streams. Withdrawals for agricultural uses totaled 74 Mgal/d, of which, 45.4 percent was consumed.

The population of Tennessee increased 33 percent from about 3.6 million in 1960 to about 4.8 million in 1985. Recent trends indicate that the population will increase by about 50,000 annually through the year 2000 (University of Tennessee, 1985). This projected population growth, along with the accompanying economic development, will increase the demands on Tennessee's supplies of freshwater. However, the abundant water resources probably will be adequate to support these additional demands.

References (for abstract only)

University of Tennessee, 1985, Population projections for Tennessee Counties (computerized data base): Knoxville, University of Tennessee, Department of Sociology.

U.S. Department of Commerce, 1968, Climatic atlas of the United States: Environmental Science Services Administration, June 1968, 80 p.

Zurawski, Ann, 1978, Summary appraisals of the Nation's ground-water resources--Tennessee region: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 813-L, 35 p.

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