Aug 26 2007

The drought is taking its toll on Blount County's water supply. Maryville and Alcoa get most of their water from Little River, and Little River is running at historic lows.

Maryville uses nearly 6 million gallons of water per day, most of it from Little River. (They are currently purchasing about 1 million gallons per day from the South Blount Utility District, which gets its water from the Tellico Reservoir.)

Alcoa's Little River intake is downstream from Maryville's. According to news reports, Little River's flow this week was about 42 cfs at the Maryville intake, and about 28 cfs at the downstream Alcoa intake. It is currently about 31 cfs at Townsend, as compared to a springtime flow of around 300 cfs.

Having waded, tubed, and fished Little River for about 40 years or so, it's about as low as I can recall ever seeing it. Fishing is out of the question, and so is tubing for the most part.

The bottom line is, everyone needs to conserve. (We've only watered our lawn once in about the last month. We're watering one more time tonight, though, before mandatory restrictions are put in place Monday morning. So, yeah, we're part of the problem, but our lawn is also nearly a complete loss from trying to be responsible all summer.)

Click read more for more photos of Little River taken yesterday...

Just below the Maryville water treatment plant. I don't have a "before" photo for comparison, but those rocks in the distance would normally be underwater, as would the gravel banks in the foreground.

Little River in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It might not look so bad in this photo, but this would normally be whitewater.

It appears the tubers are attempting to alter the stream flow to make their own chutes and passages. We noticed several of these. We're not sure this is such a good idea, or even legal.

This sad, scraggly heron near Walland is looking for a meal. The rock it's standing on would normally be underwater. In this not very good photo, you can see on the bank in the background how far down the river is below the normal water line.

It begs the question Does

It begs the question

Does your water taste different lately????

Great photos R! Thanks once again for covering the issues of concern to we Blount County residents.

I don't quite understand all

I don't quite understand all this but Maryville looks like it draws 12 or so cfs from the river on an average but that will vary from hour to hour during the day due to demand. So it looks to me like there is some other draw from the river just at a quick glance at the numbers.

Who else dips a bucket into the Little River?

CFS is the abbreviation for cubic feet per second, and I'd be willing to bet that the river has been lower historically.

The topology is drastically different but my own creek has actually been recorded at zero flow for twenty days running. Somehow the native fish survive even though they may take a population hit. I suspect the rainbow trout will suffer most due to temperature and frankly I'd just as soon they go away and leave the brookies to their native home.

Good questions, Steve. I

Good questions, Steve. I guess we got a little boost from some rain up in the mountains earlier in the week. Flows might actually be up a little right now.

I tried to find all the intakes along the way, but that info is hard to come by. In fact, local governments don't even post the addresses of their water treatment plants on their public works webites. (Alcoa had a press release inviting everyone to come out to the grand opening of their new plant, but didn't say where it was!) I guess this is some kind of homeland security deal.

P.S. Yes, Mello, our water

P.S. Yes, Mello, our water does taste funny. We bought jugs of storebought water for the first time ever since moving back from FL, just to make coffee that doesn't taste bad.

R. Neal: You mention that

R. Neal:

You mention that they are going to restrict water tomorrow. Have you heard this officially or is this just your guess? I haven't read it in the paper yet, but I thought you might have had another source.

Also, not that I plan on doing it, but does anyone know what Maryville's penalties are for violating a mandatory ban? I thought it would have been in one of the many articles, but I haven't seen it (may have missed it?).

Craig Thomas

Craig, I was speaking about

Craig, I was referring to the Alcoa (where I live) emergency meeting scheduled for tomorrow AM.



Not sure what Maryville has in terms of mandatory restrictions.

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