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The Tennessee Water Resources Research Center (TNWRRC) is a federally designated state research institute supported in part by the U.S. Geological Survey. It serves as a primary link among water-resource experts in academia, government, and the private sector, and the diversity of its staff in terms of background and expertise enhances flexibility and positions the Center to establish productive partnerships. TNWRRC is housed within the Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment (ISSE) at the University of Tennessee.


Each year, TNWRRC funds projects through the U.S. Geological Survey’s 104b program, established under the Water Resources Research Act of 1984 and implemented by USGS and the National Institute of Water Resources. The application requirements for fiscal year 2021 are contained are here. This document contains: 1) the basic information and instructions for pre-proposals are summarized; 2) state research priorities summarized from agency/organization inputs, and 3) the reviewer’s score sheet. Read more…

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The Quality of Our Groundwater—Progress on a National Survey 

A U.S. Geological Survey study of groundwater quality across the nation that began in 2013 now includes water-quality information for 18 of the most heavily used aquifers in the nation. In addition to summary fact sheets for 15 principal aquifers previously released, fact sheets are now available for the Edwards-Trinity aquifer system (primarily Texas, parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas), the Stream Valley aquifers in the western U.S. (Arkansas River, Missouri River, and Red River drainages in parts of Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Colorado), and the Colorado Plateaus aquifers in the western U.S. (SE Wyoming, E Utah, W Colorado, NW New Mexico, NE Arizona).  

Untreated groundwater from nearly 1,300 deep public-supply wells has been sampled from the 18 aquifers. Overall, inorganic constituents with a geologic source—related to the interaction of groundwater and aquifer rocks and sediments—most commonly exceeded human-health benchmarks. Among the aquifers, from 3 to 50 percent of samples contained at least one inorganic constituent that exceeded a benchmark. Those constituents were primarily the trace elements arsenic, fluoride, manganese, and strontium. The most frequent trace element exceedances occurred in the Stream Valley aquifers (37 percent), Rio Grande aquifer system (27 percent), and the Glacial aquifer system (24 percent).   

One or more radioactive constituents, which also have geologic sources, exceeded a human-health benchmark in a small percentage of samples (0 to 12 percent) in most of the 18 aquifers studied. The exceptions were the Piedmont and Blue Ridge crystalline-rock aquifers and the Cambrian-Ordovician aquifer system, where exceedances were 30 and 45 percent, respectively. The nutrient nitrate was the only constituent with a manmade source that exceeded the human-health benchmark, typically in a low percentage of samples (0 to 7 percent). 

About half of the nation’s population relies on groundwater for drinking water. The U.S. Geological Survey is intensively studying principal aquifers that provide most of the nation’s groundwater pumped for public supply. Water-quality information for three remaining principal aquifers is slated for publication in 2021.  

For more information, contact MaryLynn Musgrove. Access related groundwater-quality data here


New from USGS:

map showing regionsWhat’s in Your Stream? Get Online to Find Out! Stream Quality Viewer Shows Contaminants, Nutrients, and Stream Health— A new update to an online interactive tool for learning about pesticides, nutrients, and overall stream health in major regions of the U.S. is available from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Regional Stream Quality Assessment. Users now can access results for the Northeast and Pacific Northwest regions, along with results for the Midwest and Southeast regions made available in 2018. Read more here.