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About Our Streams
Streams and Tributaries
West Fork at SearcyThe city of Murfreesboro is located in the Stones River Watershed which is part of the larger Cumberland River Watershed. Most of the city eventually drains to either the West or East Forks of the Stones River.

Major Streams and Tributaries
  • Stones River
  • Sinking Creek
  • Bushman Creek
  • Bear Branch
  • Puckett Creek
  • Spence Creek
  • Overall Creek
  • Black Fox Spring
  • Town Creek
  • Armstrong Branch

Reference Stream and Exceptional Waters
Exceptional waters definition - “In general, these are waterbodies with good water quality, important ecological values, valuable recreational uses, and outstanding scenery.” - TDEC

Exceptional Waters
  • Dry Branch
  • Bear Branch
  • Sinking Creek
  • West Fork Stones River

Flow measurement in Puckett CreekStreamflow is highly variable in the city. During the dry times, groundwater provides much of the base flow to local streams through springs and seeps. Streams can rise rapidly in response to storm events. Typically as watersheds develop, less water makes it into the ground because of an increase in imperviousness. Instead of this water being discharged into streams over long periods of time, it goes to a stream almost immediately. Stormwater Control Measures like bioretention and rain gardens promote infiltration of this water which capture pollutants and allows land to manage water as it did prior to development.

Streams with the most base flow:
  • East Fork Stones
  • West Fork Stones
  • Middle Fork Stones
  • Sinking Creek
  • Bushman Creek
  • Town Creek

USGS Gaging Station

Karst Streams and Springs
Karst Injection
Karst Injection
Albert Ogden, Ph.D. injecting dye into a sinkhole
Murfreesboro sits on a limestone karst terrain and because of this our streams function very differently than most streams. Understanding the complex nature of our karst streams can help us better determine sources of pollution or reliable streamflow. Many of our smaller streams originate as springs only to sink into the subsurface and reemerge as a spring downstream leaving entire segments of stream dry. Flow lost in a stream can travel in the subsurface to another stream all together. Other subterranean streams flow long distances underground to be exposed briefly at the bottom of sinkholes called karst windows. These subterranean streams often emerge as large springs.

  • Sink point - a place, usually in a streambed, where flow sinks into the subsurface.
  • Karst window - A cave stream exposed briefly on the surface or a window to a cave stream.
  • Dye trace - A method used to map underground waterways by injecting dye into a sinkhole or sinking stream and detecting it at a downstream spring.

Major springs resistant to drought:
  • Wallace Spring
  • Murfree Spring
  • Maney Spring
  • Black Fox Spring

Dye Trace Studies

Dye Tracing with the Murfreesboro Stormwater Department

Habitat in our Streams
Herron birdA great diversity of wildlife depend on the Stones River to provide habitat including rare plant, fish, and salamander species.