stormwater 101

What Is A Watershed?
Farragut Stream Map
Map of Farragut Streams

The area of land where all of the water that falls in it drains off of it goes to a common outlet. Ridges and hills that separate two watersheds are called the drainage divide. The watershed consists of surface water--lakes, streams, reservoirs, and wetlands--and all the underlying ground water.

Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. They cross county, state, and national boundaries. In the continental US, there are 2,110 watersheds; including Hawaii Alaska, and Puerto Rico, there are 2,267 watersheds.

The Town has approximately 30 stream miles within it's political borders including Turkey Creek, the North Fork of Turkey Creek and Little Turkey Creek, all of which are listed on the State's 303(d) list of impaired streams.

What is Your Watershed Address?
In what watershed do you live? If you don't already know, you can use the following links to find out.

Within Knox County:
- Once the map opens, look on the left sidebar and open the menu for "Other Maps". Click the radio button next to "Watersheds". You can then type in your address or zoom in to find your home. Watershed names will appear on the map.

Outside Knox County: EPA Waters Geoviewer
- Once the map opens, look on the left sidebar and open the menu for "Feature Layers". Then open "Surface Water Features". Click the checkbox next to "Hydrologic Units" (that's the super sciency term for watershed). You can then type in your address or zoom in/out to find your home. Click on the desired location and an info box will appear. The name of the watershed is listed as "Name" at the bottom of the box.

What is Stormwater Runoff And Why Is It A Problem?
Stormwater runoff occurs when precipitation from rain or snow melt flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, and streets prevent stormwater runoff from naturally soaking into the ground.
Stormwater can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and flow into a storm sewer system or directly to a lake, stream, river, wetland, or coastal water. Anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged untreated into the waterbodies we use for swimming, fishing and providing drinking water.
(Source: "After the Storm" U.S. EPA)

What Are The Effects of Stormwater Pollution?
Image of Sediment Impaired Stream With Glass Fragment
Sediment & Glass Debris

Polluted stormwater runoff can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals and people.

Sediment can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grown. Sediment also can destroy aquatic habitats. Sediment is the #1 cause of stream impairment in the Town of Farragut and in Tennessee as a whole.

Excess nutrients can cause algae blooms. When algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that removes oxygen from the water. Fish and other aquatic organisms can't exist in water with low dissolved oxygen levels.

Bacteria and other pathogens can wash into swimming areas and create health hazards, often making beach closures necessary.

Debris - plastic bags, six-pack rings, bottles, and cigarette butts - washed into waterbodies can choke, suffocate, or disable aquatic life like ducks, fish, turtles, and birds. Debris can also be hazardous to humans during the recreational use of streams and other water bodies.

Household hazardous wastes like insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, used motor oil, and other auto fluids can poison aquatic life. Land animals and people can become sick from eating diseased fish and shellfish or ingesting polluted water.

Polluted stormwater often affects drinking water sources. This, in turn, can affect human health and increase drinking water treatment costs.
(Source: "After the Storm" U.S. EPA)

How Can I Prevent Stormwater Pollution


Recycle or properly dispose of household products that contain chemicals, such as insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, and used motor oil and other auto fluids. Don't pour them onto the ground or into storm drains. Visit Knox County's Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste Website for more information.

Lawn Care

Excess fertilizers and pesticides applied to lawns and gardens wash off and pollute streams. In addition, yard clippings and leaves can wash into storm drains and contribute nutrients and organic matter to streams.

  • Don't overwater your lawn. Consider using a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler.

  • Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. When use is necessary, use these chemicals in the recommended amounts. Use organic mulch or safer pest control methods whenever possible.

  • Compost or mulch yard waste. Don't leave it in the street or sweep it into storm drains or streams.

  • Cover piles of dirt or mulch being used in landscaping projects.

Septic Systems

Leaking and poorly maintained septic systems release nutrients and pathogens (bacteria and viruses) that can be picked up by stormwater and discharged into nearby waterbodies. Pathogens an cause public health problems and environmental concerns.
  • Inspect your system every 3 years and pump your tank as necessary (every 3 to 5 years).

  • Don't dispose of household hazardous waste in sinks or toilets.

Auto Care

Washing your car and degreasing auto parts at home can send detergents and other contaminants through the storm sewer system. Dumping automotive fluids into storm drains has the same result as dumping the materials directly into a waterbody.

  • Use a commercial car wash that treats or recycles its wastewater, or wash your car on your yard so the water infiltrates into the ground.

  • Repair leaks and dispose of used auto fluids and batteries at designated drop-off or recycling locations.

Pet Waste

Pet waste can be a major source of bacteria and excess nutrients in local waters.
  • When walking your pet, remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly. Flushing pet waste is the best disposal method. Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into the storm drain and eventually into local waterbodies.

Residential Landscaping

Permeable Pavement—Traditional concrete and asphalt don't allow water to soak into the ground. Instead these surfaces rely on storm drains to divert unwanted water. Permeable pavement systems allow rain and snowmelt to soak through, decreasing stormwater runoff.

Rain Barrels—You can collect rainwater from rooftops in mosquito-proof containers. The water can be used later on lawn or garden areas.

Rain Gardens and Grassy Swales—Specially designed areas planted with native plants can provide natural places for rainwater to collect and soak into the ground. Rain from rooftop areas or paved areas can be diverted into these areas rather than into storm drains.

Vegetated Filter Strips—Filter strips are areas of native grass or plants created along roadways or streams. They trap the pollutants stormwater picks up as it flows across driveways and streets.

(Source: "After the Storm" U.S. EPA)

Erosion Control Measures
Erosion Control Measures Create
A Stable Construction Site


Dirt, oil, and debris that collect in parking lots and paved areas can be washed into the storm sewer system and eventually enter local waterbodies.

  • Sweep up litter and debris from sidewalks, driveways and parking lots, especially around storm drains.

  • Cover grease storage and dumpsters and keep them clean to avoid leaks.

  • Report any chemical spill to the local hazardous waste cleanup team. They'll know the best way to keep spills from harming the environment.


Erosion controls that aren't maintained can cause excessive amounts of sediment and debris to be carried into the stormwater system. Construction vehicles can leak fuel, oil, and other harmful fluids that can be picked up by stormwater and deposited into local waterbodies.
  • Divert stormwater away from disturbed or exposed areas of the construction site.

  • Install silt fences, vehicle mud removal areas, vegetative cover, and other sediment and erosion controls and properly maintain them, especially after rainstorms.

  • Prevent soil erosion by minimizing disturbed areas during construction projects, and seed and mulch bare areas as soon as possible.

Automotive Facilities

  • Uncovered fueling stations allow spills to be washed into storm drains. Cars waiting to be repaired can leak fuel, oil, and other harmful fluids that can be picked up by stormwater.

  • Clean up spills immediately and properly dispose of cleanup materials.

  • Provide cover over fueling stations and design or retrofit facilities for spill containment.

  • Properly maintain fleet vehicles to prevent oil, gas, and other discharges from being washed into local waterbodies.

  • Install and maintain oil/water separators.

(Source: "After the Storm" U.S. EPA)