January 2023 Virtual Meeting

Monday, January 9, 2023
6:00 - 7:30 pm

Note: ETGS members will receive an email with info for logging into the meeting.

January Presentation

Geospatial Analysis and Water Quality Index Assessment of Karst Spring Water Quality in Northeast Tennessee



Lukman Fashina1, Ingrid Luffman2, Andrew Joyner2, and Nandi Arpita2

1PhD Student, Department of Geography and Sustainability, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
2Department of Geosciences, East Tennessee State University



Karst springs are an essential source of private water supply for about 10% of households in Tennessee. However, regulatory monitoring does not exist for private (drinking) water quality in the state, unlike for public water systems. Private water users are advised only to periodically test for contaminants in their springs or domestic wells. Water quality is spatially and temporally dynamic, and more prominently so in a karst environment. Therefore, this study investigates the water quality of roadside springs in Northeast Tennessee. Karst springwater samples collected from 50 springs in six counties of east Tennessee were assessed for pathogens, nutrients, radon, and physicochemical parameters. All but five samples contained E. coli, while all samples contained total coliform. High E. coli and total coliform were spatially clustered (Local Moran's I = 0.177 and 0.147, pseudo p-value = 0.012 and 0.02, respectively) in regions of high agricultural land use, resulting in a fecal contamination hot spot on the border of Washington and Sullivan Counties, Tennessee. Radon concentrations exceeded the 300 pCi/L proposed MCL in 29 (58%) of springs, with one spring in Unicoi County exceeding 1,000 pCi/L. A radon hot spot was identified at northern Washington County (Local Moran's I = 0.160, pseudo p-value = 0.014). Other parameters, including nitrate, pH, and TDS, were within recommended ranges for drinking water. The water quality index (Brown et al., 1972) results showed that 12% and 88% of samples were in very poor, and unfit for drinking conditions respectively. From analyses, agricultural land use and lithological contributions from springwater-rock interaction were the major factors controlling fecal and radiological contaminations. These findings will help to identify poor springwater quality zones that will be of interest to springwater users in the region.



Lukman Fashina is an Isobel Griscom Fellow pursuing his doctoral study at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where his research interests focus on GIS, remote sensing, environmental change monitoring, and hydrologic modeling. His previous research explored the water quality of karst springs as a private water supply source in northeast Tennessee, and GIS-based DRASTIC modeling assessment of intrinsic groundwater vulnerability to contamination in Pennsylvania.

In addition to his professional experience as a researcher in a policy think tank, he recently participated in the NASA DEVELOP National Program where he worked on a team that used NASA Earth observation data to monitor surface water extents of remote stock ponds in the southwestern United States for enhanced water resources management.

He holds a B.Sc. in Geology from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and M.S. degrees in Sustainable Water Management (Water, Energy, and Food track) from Tufts University, and Geosciences (Geospatial Analysis concentration) from East Tennessee State University.

Among his numerous honors and awards, Lukman is an American Water Resources Association's (AWRA) Rising Star 2021-2022 and an awardee of the Richard A. Herbert Memorial Graduate Masters Division Scholarship. When he is not studying, he enjoys volunteering and has previously volunteered in numerous educational and community development services.


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Page updated May 10, 2023