Northview Senior Academy student wins award for water research

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – A Northview Senior Academy student’s research project on the Little Pigeon River in Sevier County has earned him the Stockholm Junior Water Prize.

Travis Rawlinson started his research project and collected samples at four points along the river. He compared bacteria levels from 2013 to now, and he found the bacteria levels got significantly worse the further you get out of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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“I found that there were elevated fecal coliform levels, and the water quality did decline, and conductivity was higher than it was measured back then,” he said.

He tested four points along the river from the national park border in Gatlinburg through Pigeon Forge and into Sevierville.

“In 2013, relative to now, the trends that it was showing going towards an unsafe path, but what as far as I know, in terms of water quality, it was not dangerous,” he said.

Rawlinson found the water at the national park border was safe enough to drink, but it got significantly worse by the time the water reached Sevierville City Park. The collected water levels were so bad that he said he wouldn’t swim in them.

“For 100 milliliters at the national park border relative to here and the other two spots greater than 1100,” Rawlinson said. “So I just find that downstream the water did show declines in quality. I showed higher coliform, and it had higher conductivity.”

He believes those declines are directly related to more and more people visiting Sevier County.

Rawlinson’s research project got him not only the state prize but a regional victory as well.

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