News and events from Knox County Stormwater Management.
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Strong Streams Newsletter
Spring 2020
What makes a stream strong?
When you are out enjoying the waters of Knox County, you may be curious about what exactly makes some streams healthier than others. The stream indicators used to determine health are broken down into two main categories: physical and chemical. The chemical characteristics that the Knox County Stormwater team members look for cannot be seen with the naked eye, but physical indicators are things that can be seen without any special equipment. Physical characteristics of a strong stream include bank stability, access to a floodplain, streamside vegetation,  clear water, and cool water temperatures. This may seem like a long list but all of these things are connected.

The banks of a stream are stable when there are tree roots holding the soil together. Streamside vegetation also slows down incoming stormwater by absorbing flow. A stream spilling out of its banks into the floodplain during a heavy rainfall can also slow down water flow and prevent erosion. When a stream is well connected to its floodplain, there is room for water to spill over the banks  as the stream fills up instead of cutting into the sides of the channel. Slowing down stormwater prevents erosion which leads to less sediment getting into the stream, and less cloudy water. Less sediment in the water means clearer water and an easier life for fish, mussels and crayfish.  Next time you’re out hiking around streams, try to spot some of these physical stream characteristics and do your own evaluation of how the stream is doing.  What's doing the heavy lifting for your stream?

Home Water-saving Tips

Many of us have been spending more time at home lately and finally have the time to get to those home projects we have been putting off. Here are some easy water quality tips that you can use while at home!
1. Wash your car on your lawn instead of in your driveway. This helps water to soak into the soil and keeps suds from washing down the storm drain and into our local streams.
2. Do you have a clogged sink drain? Try using a drain snake tool instead of a chemical option. This helps protect wastewater down the line, and makes it easier on our water treatment facilities!
3. Minimize fertilizer use and never fertilize before a downpour! Heavy rains can wash fertilizer into streams, encouraging excess vegetation growth that blocks sunlight, and negatively impacting local wildlife.
Do your part to help Knox County streams stay strong! 

Powell Station Celebration
Hey Everybody! It’s getting to be that time of year again here in Knox County.
The Powell Station Celebration is gearing up for their annual event on August 29th, 2020. The event is taking place at Powell High School from 8 am to 5 pm.
The Powell Station Celebration is a community-building event with fun for everyone, including a car show, flotilla, disc golf and corn hole tournaments, food, and so much more! So, mark your calendars and prepare to come out and enjoy our beautiful East Tennessee waterways with your family and friends! You can find more information about the event and RSVP here.  
Ivy Rain Barrel Sale Going on Now!

Seeing as it’s been a pretty rainy year, we think that now is a better time than ever to talk about rain barrels.  If you find yourself paying a lot of money for your water utilities, or want to take up sustainable gardening practices, a rain barrel can be a big boon to both your gardens and your wallet. If you are looking for a rain barrel that helps support a good cause, consider the Water Quality Forum's upcoming rain barrel sale. This spring they will be selling Ivy brand rain barrels for $70, a mark down from the usual $130. Proceeds from your purchase will go towards local water quality education for our communities and schools. Order using the link below or the QR code above. Rain barrel pickup is June 13th in the parking lot of Graphic Creations, located at 213 East 4th Ave, Knoxville, TN 37917.

Order at
 Catch up with us!
Roseberry Creek:  Knox County Stormwater and our partners have been having success with repairing septic systems in the Roseberry Creek watershed. To date, we have repaired 12 septic systems, with five more currently being repaired. We have also connected three properties to the sewer system. On the agriculture side, we have completed three farm best management projects, with two more currently in the process of installation. Overall, our initiatives in the watershed are beginning to have a positive impact on water quality. We expect even greater things ahead.

Stock Creek. In the Stock Creek watershed we have also seen some improvements toward water quality. In 2019, 10 septic systems were repaired and two properties connected to the sewer system. We’ve also been very active with education and outreach activities including a successful Farmers’ Breakfast. In 2020 so far, two septic systems have been repaired while one agricultural project is approved and one is ready for implementation. It’s already shaping up to be a great year for Stock Creek.

Freshwater Finds that our AmeriCorps members have encountered around Knox County.
Top: Lake Sturgeon. Bottom, left to right: Fungi, Frost Flowers, and Natural Foam.


Our 2019-2020 AmeriCorps members continue to carry out Knox County’s mission to provide our citizens with essential services, while exercising professionalism, enthusiasm, and creativity in the workplace. Here are some of the interesting things they have discovered while serving with us this year.

Hello! My name is Briana Gladhill. This year we decided to create a series for our Stormwater social media called Freshwater Finds. This series was partially based on what we were learning about the waterways of East Tennessee, and based on finds we actually encountered in the field! On a frosty morning while training to conduct visual stream assessments, our supervisor pointed out what has become my favorite freshwater find – frost flowers! These wintertime “blooms” are formed when sap inside the stems of plants freezes and expands causing cracks to form along the length of the stem (see middle picture above). Water is then drawn through these cracks and freezes upon contact with the air. Eventually, as the thin ice layers are pushed further from the stems, a thin ice “petal” will form. This was my favorite freshwater find because it was beautiful to look at and depicted a process I had never seen or heard of before!  

Hey all! My name is Adam Weinzapfel. We’ve had a fun term so far, and with it, a plethora of freshwater finds to discover and learn about. Now while I never found one while we were out, my favorite freshwater species I’ve come to learn about is the Lake Sturgeon. They are capable of growing up to nine feet in length, and some females have been known to live as long as 150 years! They are basically freshwater dinosaurs. These long-nosed beauties were at one point commonplace in the Tennessee River, but sadly, nowadays, you’ll be lucky if you spot one as they were nearly wiped out from the ecosystem. But organizations like the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute are working hard to revitalize their population, so hopefully we can return to a time when dinosaurs roam the Tennessee River. 

Hi there! My name is Connal Boyd. Part of the fun of field work is running into neat freshwater finds! Some of my favorite finds while out in Knox County’s streams have been the fungi I’ve come across. When I first found this fungi, I nearly ran right into it! It was about the size of a fingernail, and was growing on a dead tree near a stream. I looked up from stream surveying and saw it, right at eye-level. It was such an interesting shade of orange, I knew I had to take a picture (see leftmost picture above). I still don’t know what kind this is, but one way I may be able to find out is by using the iNaturalist app. This app is free and allows the public to upload pictures of observations they have made while exploring nature. So the next time you see a really cool plant or animal, consider snapping a picture and sharing it with other nature enthusiasts! 

Hey everybody, Ali Goodman here. Undoubtedly, my favorite moments of the term so far have been days spent out in the field. Walking the streams is a great way to sharpen your plant and animal ID skills, or learn about a new natural process. One thing that I enjoyed learning about this spring is natural foam in the water (see rightmost picture above). The brownish foam that collects on top of the water is something that I have long been curious about, but always assumed it had an unnatural cause. In actuality, that foam is completely natural. It forms when plants and animals decompose in the water and the fats and oils from the cells rise to the surface of the stream and then are whipped into a foam by the currents and wind. The only time when foam is something to worry about is when it smells overly fragrant, which can signify that it may be coming from an illicit discharge. I love that I can serve in a position where I get to do so much hands on learning about the outdoors.
Visit our website at to learn more about our programs and where to get your questions answered. Visit our Facebook page to keep up to date on all the latest happenings on the streams of Knox County.
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Knox County Stormwater Management 
205 W. Baxter Ave. 
Knoxville, TN 37917
Phone: (865) 215-5540
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Knox County Stormwater Management · 205 W. Baxter Ave. · Knoxville, TN 37917 · USA

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