Originally Posted by Grannyknot
I'm not going to say if this affects the quality of water that enters the clinch, but my guess would be that agricultural & sewage run-off, as well as trash dumping affect the water quite a bit worse.
Sedimentation of the river is another issue. Strip Mines, active or not, would be a big factor in this regard.
The biggest water quality issue facing the Clinch IMO is basic rain water sediment run off. There is very little agriculture in either water shed, very little sewage impacts as both run through somewhat rural areas, even with Lake City being nearby it is small considering how much larger populations centers can be. The sediment is simply picked up in normal non disturbed areas during times of heavy rain. This sediment is a non-issue when TVA runs enough water to move it through the system without settling. However, in years like this past year when extended low flows exist the sediment becomes a major issue.
I personally do not feel the coal mining in the headwaters of the Clinch tribs are having any negative affects at this point. I have Grouse hunted in those areas and those mines are so ancient and settled that the streams adjacent to them run clear and from the minnow populations appear to be pretty healthy. Now a trip further north and west can find streams that run orange with sulfuric acid, but they drain an entirely different watershed.
The issues facing the Clinch are low flows like this year, over harvest, and stripers. Each are equally bad, and some like the stripers and harvest are easily controlled.