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ENVR/ WR Seminar: Evaluating Land Use Factors Leading to Potential Water Use Conflicts Between Agricultural Producers and Urban Water Supplies in the Tennessee Valley, Brandy Manka

Date: Thursday, November 16

Time: 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Location: 410 John D. Tickle Building


Growing population in large urban centers and climate change have the potential to influence future agricultural production in the eastern United States (US). The conflict between agriculture producers and urban users, particularly in terms of water supply, could arise in the Tennessee Valley and other areas in the Southeast US. To assess this potential conflict, the water demand for all users must be quantified. In contrast to western states, Tennessee is considered a riparian law state; where landowners have rights to surface water passing through or by their property. Agricultural water withdrawals are exempt from registration and reporting requirements if the pumping station is portable, resulting in a lack of reliable records. Alternative solutions to quantify agriculture water demand must be developed to manage water resources efficiently in the Tennessee Valley.

The purpose of this study is to create a tool that demonstrates the potential of agriculture pasturelands’ impacts on urban water supplies in mixed land-use landscapes. The agriculture users can be categorized in terms of temporal scale of water demand, with the livestock industry representing a specific, short-term impact in the event of water stress caused by drought-like climate conditions. The tool spatially identifies agriculture pasturelands susceptible to water stress by utilizing farm-specific characteristics and historical climate scenarios to assess the probability of occurrence. Susceptibility to water stress is quantified as the demand for water by livestock exceeding the supply of water available via watering facilities, both of which depend on site-specific reactions to inputted climate variables such as precipitation and temperature. Results of an application case study of this tool performed on the Duck River watershed in Tennessee, US, will be presented. This study and tool development represents an introduction of a broader scale investigation into state-wide water use conflicts, particularly considering the continuing expansions of the state’s several metropolitan areas.



Brandy Manka is a PhD student in Environmental Engineering and UT Chancellor’s Fellowship topoff recipient working with Dr. John Schwartz at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she received her B.S. with honors in Civil Engineering in 2016. She primarily works on a USDA funded project with multiple institutional investigators that focuses on accessing water availability in Tennessee. Manka aids in the project’s collaboration with the Tennessee Valley Authority river forecast team; and her doctoral dissertation research focuses on assessing water use conflicts at multiple scales, with future work involving water use optimization at watershed and state-wide levels with climate change and population growth investigations and environmental flow evaluation.

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