Chuck Denney-Narrator (UT Institute of Agriculture)
The Obed River is known for its beauty and clarity, but keeping this stream clean isn’t easy. You may be surprised to learn the number one pollutant of rivers in Tennessee is actually dirt.

Dennis Gregg (Obed Watershed Association)
“One of the things that’s important is not only what happens in the stream, but what happens to the water getting to the stream.”

Chuck Denney
Dennis Gregg leads a group concerned about water quality in the Obed and its tributaries. The river’s headwaters are here at the Clyde York 4-H Center in Crossville, where the group used natural matting to keep the banks from eroding into the stream – preventing dirt from finding its way to the bigger river.

Dennis Gregg
“People tend to think of this small little gully or drainage way or ditch – they don’t see that as being part of a stream, and yet it’s the beginning.”

Chuck Denney
All over Tennessee, we’re seeing a lot of farms and forests turned into residential and commercial areas. Developed areas don’t absorb rainfall as well, so that water has to go somewhere. Here the runoff typically finds its way to tributaries, and eventually major rivers.

Now Cumberland County Master Gardeners with UT Extension are also protecting the Obed. They’re building a garden where water can be recycled, and the idea is right plant, right place to keep soil here when it rains.

Greg Upchurch (UT Extension-Cumberland County)
“In the old days, we just tried to keep the water off our property. Now we’re looking more towards infiltration, trying to keep the water on our property, infiltrating that water into our soil profiles.”

Dr. Andrea Ludwig (UT Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science)
“The purpose is to just slow down that storm water.”

Chuck Denney
Dr. Andrea Ludwig of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science at UT’s Institute of Agriculture works with the volunteers to protect the river. She says runoff happens naturally with rainfall, but it’s important to limit its impact with the transfer of sediment.t.

Dr. Andrea Ludwig
“Sediment can build up in streams, and it takes a long time for sediment that’s been displaced from construction sites, from agricultural fields, from urban residential land uses, it takes a long time for that to be flushed out of a stream channel. So it just builds up and creates a loss of habitat in our creeks and streams.”

Chuck Denney
Several other projects are planned to protect stream banks and other nearby areas to the Obed. It will take time and more work, but this river can remain pretty and pure.


NOTE: The Obed Watershed Association has teamed with UT Extension to host several workshops recently about rainwater capture and reuse.