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Fontana Reservoir

Ecological health rating

Fontana Reservoir rated fair in 2010, a similar rating to previous years in which the full complement of indicators was measured.

In 1994, 1995, and 2000 the overall health score was slightly higher. This was partly because bottom life was not sampled at all locations in these years. Bottom life usually rates poor on Fontana and probably would have reduced the overall score by several points.

Fontana Reservoir Ecological Health Ratings, 1994-2010

reservoir ratings chart

Click chart for raw data.  

The table below shows the ratings for individual ecological health indicators at Fontana in 2010. These ratings are briefly explained in the paragraphs that follow.

Ecological Health Indicators for
Fontana Reservoir, 2010

Monitoring locations

Dissolved oxygen



Bottom life


Mid-reservoir: Little Tennessee River arm
Mid-reservoir: Tuckasegee River arm

Dissolved oxygen

Dissolved oxygen rated good at the forebay and fair at the Little Tennessee mid-reservoir location because a small area along the reservoir bottom contained low dissolved oxygen concentrations (< 2 mg/l) in late summer. A greater area of water with low dissolved oxygen was present at the Tuckasegee location and resulted in a poor rating. In previous years, dissolved oxygen has rated good or fair at the forebay and Little Tennessee mid-reservoir locations and fair or poor at the Tuckasegee location. However, the area with low dissolved oxygen was substantially smaller at the Tuckasegee location in 2004 than in other years, resulting in the only good rating for dissolved oxygen at this location.


Chlorophyll rated good at the forebay and Little Tennessee mid-reservoir monitoring locations and fair at the Tuckasegee location. Chlorophyll has rated good at the forebay all years monitored. Chlorophyll ratings have fluctuated between good, fair, and poor at the Little Tennessee mid-reservoir location with no specific trend over time. At the Tuckasegee mid-reservoir location, chlorophyll received good ratings during the early 1990s, but has fluctuated between fair and poor ratings since 1995.


The fish community rated good at all monitoring locations.  The fish community has rated fair or good at these locations in previous years.

Bottom life

Bottom life rated poor at all monitoring locations. Bottom life has rated poor or at the low end of the fair range at these locations in past years. Each year, relatively few organisms, mainly those capable of tolerating poor conditions, are collected from the reservoir bottom.


Sediment quality rated good at the forebay and Tuckasegee mid-reservoir locations because no PCBs or pesticides were detected and all metal concentrations were within the expected range. Copper exceeded expected background levels at the Little Tennessee mid-reservoir location, resulting in a fair rating. In 2008, chromium exceeded suggested background concentrations at this location, but neither copper nor chromium has been above background levels in other monitoring years. Historically, sediment ratings have fluctuated between good and fair at all locations depending on whether or not chlordane was detected. Chlordane was last detected in the reservoir sediments in 2002, and only at the Tuckasegee monitoring location. 


See definitions of ecological health indicators and monitoring locations.

Fish consumption advisories

Fontana Reservoir - TVA maintains a program to examine contaminants in fish fillets from TVA reservoirs and their major tributary streams on a rotational basis.  The data collected from this program is distributed to the state officials who are responsible for placing or removing fish tissue consumption advisories on those bodies of water. For information on advisories currently in effect for Fontana Reservoir, visit the Epidemiology Division of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ web page.


lake photo

Fontana Reservoir is located on the Little Tennessee River, deep in the forests and mountains of western North Carolina.


More about Fontana

Sport fishing ratings

Spring sportfish survey results

General information

To see monitoring results for other TVA reservoirs, choose from the list below.





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