On July 1, 2020, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) announced a 6.7-mile extension of the existing precautionary fish consumption advisory due to mercury on the Emory River in Morgan County. Additionally, a new precautionary advisory due to mercury in smallmouth bass is being issued for a portion of Daddy’s Creek in Morgan and Cumberland Counties. Obed River fish were also tested on multiple occasions and were not found to have elevated levels of mercury. Obed Wild & Scenic River includes portions of Daddy’s Creek, the Obed River and Clear Creek. Common recreation activities on these streams include boating, fishing, wading and swimming.
TDEC provides these advisories so the community can make informed decisions about whether or not to consume the fish they catch. In a 2006 statewide screening of Tennessee rivers and lakes, Emory River was identified as a waterbody where mercury levels in fish were elevated and an advisory was issued in 2007. Additional studies by TDEC and the Tennessee Valley Authority indicated these elevated mercury levels in fish extended further upstream than previously thought.
This new notification expands the advisory 6.7 miles upstream to the mouth of the Obed River. The Emory advisory, which is for all fish species, now extends from US Hwy 27 (Mile 12.4) upstream to the mouth of the Obed River at mile 28.4. Only a short section of the upper Emory River is inside the Obed Wild & Scenic River.
The Daddy’s Creek precautionary advisory is for smallmouth bass only and will extend from its mouth on the Obed River upstream to Interstate 40, near Mile 20. This section includes the portion of the stream that was designated by Congress as a National Wild & Scenic River and includes the portion within Catoosa Wildlife Management Area.
TDEC advises that pregnant or nursing mothers and children avoid eating the fish species included in the advisory and that all others limit consumption to one meal per month. Other recreational activities such as boating, swimming, wading, and catch-and-release fishing carry no risk. Warning signs will be posted at public access areas.
Obed Wild & Scenic River is the only Wild & Scenic River in Tennessee. The State of Tennessee classifies Daddy’s Creek as an Exceptional Tennessee Water and the Obed River as an Outstanding National Resource Water.
For a complete listing of Tennessee’s current fishing advisories plus additional information about the advisory issuance process, visit: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/environment/water/documents/water_fish-advisories.pdf
An EPA website has additional information about mercury at: http://www2.epa.gov/fish-tech/epa-fda-advisory-mercury-fish-and-shellfish
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