Committee Chair

Henry, James


Dept. of Chemical Engineering


College of Engineering and Computer Science


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


The Copper Hill Basin area in Polk County, Tennessee has been severely impacted by more than a century of mining. The water found in the streams in this area is polluted with dissolved metals and sulfates. Burra-Burra Creek is one of the various waterways impacted and is located within the 130 km2 area of deserted mines in the Copper Basin. This stream is fed from runoff and mine seepage; the stream is acidic and the metal concentration is high in comparison to the concentrations in other streams in the immediate area. The use of constructed wetlands to treat acidic mine seepage was explored aggressively in the 1980's. Several artificial wetlands were constructed and some guidelines for wetlands design were developed. These guidelines were neither consistent with each other nor widely accepted. However, constructed wetlands have been hailed as a cost effective method to treat wastewater. This paper explores a wetland design to treat the waters of Burra-Burra Creek. The site of the proposed constructed wetlands is located just downstream from the junction of Burra-Burra Creek and McPherson Branch. The constructed wetland design is based on stream quality data collected between 1991 - 1994 and incorporates concepts from wetlands constructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The design consists of an anoxic limestone drain to increase pH and four wetland cells of varying depths to treat the wastewater. This design is expected to raise the pH and to remove the metals to within the ranges specified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEP A) for the water treated. The total cost of this project was estimated to be $350,000. This is very reasonable when compared to the cost of constructing a chemical treatment plant that would cost $1,000,000. The annual operational costs of the constructed wetland are estimated to be $73,000 while the annual cost of operating a wastewater treatment plant will be $300,000. It is recommended that this technology be used for this particular creek. In this particular case, a constructed wetland would increase the pH and remove the metals from the creek to acceptable levels. From an economic standpoint, the constructed wetland is feasible.


There are many people to whom I am thankful for making my time at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga rewarding. I am particularly thankful to my Dissertation Committee: Doctors James M. Henry, James R. Cunningham, Edward H. McMahon and J. Hill Craddock for their suggestions and guidance.


M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.




Constructed wetlands--Tennessee--Polk County; Acid mine drainage--Tennessee--Polk County; Water quality management; Copper mines and mining


Chemical Engineering

Document Type

Masters theses




viii, 49 leaves



Call Number

LB2369.2 .S633 2000