Ohio and Mississippi Rivers
TVA dams and reservoirs have prevented about $402 million in damages along the lower Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
Kentucky Dam, located 22 miles upstream from where the Tennessee River joins the Ohio River at Paducah, Ky., is particularly important to protecting land in the lower Ohio and Mississippi River valleys.
Kentucky Reservoir provides more storage capacity than any other TVA reservoir — a total of four million acre-feet. (That’s enough to cover four million acres of land with one foot of water.) This helps protect the Mississippi River levee system that guards six million acres of land in Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana, and it helps reduce the frequency of flooding on four million acres of land not protected by the levee system.
When flood flows occur in the upper Mississippi River basin, water is released from Kentucky Reservoir before the Ohio River crests at Paducah and the Mississippi River crests at Cairo, Ill., just one or two days’ water travel time from Kentucky Dam. The objective is to discharge the Tennessee River flood crest in advance of the Ohio and Mississippi flood crests so that there is sufficient storage volume in Kentucky to hold back water during the Cairo flood peak. After the Cairo flood crest has passed down the Mississippi, floodwaters stored in Kentucky are released as downstream conditions permit.