Partnerships and Public Involvement
Developing working relationships with local landowners, businesses, other agencies, community groups, and environmental organizations helps TVA promote environmental awareness, gather public input, and respond to the needs and concerns of those who live, work, and play in the Valley.
Through its Watershed Teams, each covering a specific area in the 108,000-square-kilometer (42,000-square-mile) Tennessee River watershed, TVA builds partnerships with citizens at the grass-roots level. By maintaining an active, accessible presence throughout the region, TVA’s watershed and economic development specialists are able to work with community coalitions to inform people about sustainable land practices and environmental protection, thus linking land use and water quality needs.
These specialists help communities implement model site-design principles, which reduce the environmental impacts of sprawl, improve water quality, reduce flash flooding, preserve natural settings, and optimize the conservation of water resources for the public’s benefit. They have been important members of coalitions from the Upper Tennessee and Middle Cumberland River basins, which were awarded EPA grants of $800,000 and $600,000, respectively, to continue their initiatives.
Another innovative TVA partnership is the Green Power Switch Generation Partners demonstration project. This dual-metering option credits the owner of a qualifying power generation system 15 cents per kilowatt-hour for all energy produced using clean wind or solar power. In 2002–2003, TVA’s Public Power Institute partnered with the Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Habitat for Humanity, Loudon County, Lenoir City Utilities Board, and TVA’s energy right program to build three of five planned Zero Energy Buildings (ZEBs) in Lenoir City, Tennessee. The ZEBs are high-efficiency structures designed to produce as much energy as they use annually. The homes will test and demonstrate innovative technologies such as these: advanced, low-cost zero-power sensors and controls; roofs that change their reflectivity according to the temperature; self-healing caulks and flashings that expand to cover the space; indoor air quality enhancements; and advanced water heating and space conditioning—the integration of a building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system within the building enclosure or building envelope.
The first ZEB built by the partnership was a 99-square-meter (1,067-square-foot) Habitat for Humanity home in Lenoir City, Tennessee. Two additional ZEBs were constructed between 2000 and 2003, creating a living laboratory through which sponsors can teach builders, contractors, and homeowners about the advantages of high-efficiency buildings. Two remaining ZEBs will be constructed in 2004, and plans are under way to build similar structures through Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Walker County, Georgia, and Hamilton County, Tennessee.
Addressing air quality issues is the focus of two additional TVA partnerships: the Southern Appalachian Mountains Initiative (SAMI) and the Visibility Improvement State and Tribal Association of the Southeast (VISTAS). TVA was an active partner in SAMI, a voluntary, consensus-based partnership of state and federal environmental agencies, federal land managers, industries, environmental activists, academics, and residents of the Valley. In 2002, SAMI completed an integrated assessment of the sources and effects of air pollution in the southern Appalachians. The results support current emissions control plans and show that reductions from all sources will be required to significantly improve mountain air quality.
VISTAS is a regional planning organization created to help coordinate activities associated with the management of regional haze and other air quality concerns in the southeastern United States. TVA atmospheric scientists are completing the first six months of a yearlong project that involves sampling the chemical components of airborne fine particles at Look Rock, Tennessee. This is one of four monitoring sites being developed in the Southeast by VISTAS, with co-funding by TVA. Hourly average data are being collected for sulfate, nitrate, organic carbon, and elemental carbon (soot) to determine the present levels and sources of light-scattering aerosols in the region. This information will be the basis for developing an effective program to reduce aerosol levels and improve visibility in Class I scenic areas as mandated by regional haze regulations. TVA and the National Park Service jointly operate the Look Rock site.
A partnership between TVA Cultural Resources and Native Americans focuses on archaeological sites located along TVA reservoirs. According to archaeologists, the history of human life in the Tennessee Valley extends back some 11,000 years. While these early settlements are long gone, irreplaceable links to the Valley’s past exist in the form of archaeological remains. To balance the preservation and protection of prehistoric and historic Native American sites with the stewardship of reservoirs and rivers, TVA partnered with all 18 federally recognized Native American tribes having historical ties to the Valley to host the first-ever Native American Consultation Workshop in 2002. During the day-and-a-half workshop, tribal representatives were able to meet face-to-face with TVA Cultural Resources staff to ask questions, voice concerns, and provide input on geographical regions of particular interest to the tribes. In return, TVA was able to raise awareness among tribal members of the actions TVA is taking to stabilize and protect archaeological sites.
In 2002, TVA stabilized 19 critically eroding archaeological sites along approximately 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) of shoreline. Fourteen additional sites were stabilized in these areas during 2003.
Protecting the sites from looters is a more daunting task for TVA. When this occurs, both irreplaceable artifacts and their context—the relationship of artifacts and other cultural remains to each other and to the surroundings in which they are found—are lost forever. To help prevent looting and protect sites, TVA’s Cultural Resources staff has partnered with the public in a stewardship project called A Thousand Eyes. The project, which works in concert with TVA Lake Watch (a cooperative effort to reduce crime and accidents on TVA-managed reservoirs and shorelines), trains local volunteers in how to recognize and report suspicious activities, such as someone digging along the reservoir shoreline.
TVA’s Cultural Resources staff also makes presentations to Lake Watch groups, students, and community organizations and offers field trips to increase awareness of both prehistoric and historic archaeological sites.
For more information on the preservation of archaeological sites on TVA-managed lands or to schedule a presentation, go to Cultural Resources.