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Regional Resource Stewardship Council
Integrated River Management Subcommittee

Recommendations on TVA’s Integrated Management of the Tennessee River System

Approved by the Regional Resource Stewardship Council on May 18, 2001

Background

At the end of the second meeting of the Regional Resource Stewardship Council on May 25, 2000, four subcommittees were formed; the Integrated River Management subcommittee being one of the four. During subsequent subcommittee meetings, the following purpose and objectives were agreed upon for the Integrated River Management subcommittee:

  • Study issues relative to TVA’s management of the Tennessee River system and related activities for multiple public benefits, including: navigation, flood damage reduction, power generation, regional development, lake/reservoir levels, water supply, recreation, and aquatic habitat.
  • Consider the balances and tradeoffs of different river system management strategies. Determine what compromises are necessary for the Council to make recommendations to TVA about follow-on analysis of uses and related impacts.
  • Develop recommendations for consideration by the RRSC that would provide greater public benefits from TVA’s management of the Tennessee River System to include an evaluation of the 1990 study assumptions, projected models and findings.

The IRM subcommittee then engaged in a series of meetings involving outside specialists in a variety of fields as well as listening to and trying to weigh the comments of some 54 TVA stakeholders. During and after these educational and public comment sessions, the IRM subcommittee members held discussions among themselves in an effort to refine and place in proper perspective the various facets of the 8 topics which comprised the original statement of purpose and objectives.

Recommendations

The following three major groupings constitute the initial recommendations the Integrated River Management subcommittee wants to present to the RRSC:

I. Encourage TVA to continue its role in regional economic development including providing:

  • low cost and stable power supply
  • hydro power
  • power reliability
  • meet increasing power demands
  • efficiency in hydro operations as it relates to other issues (upgrading equipment, optimizing for power production; protecting water quality; understanding economic development relationships)
  • maintenance of locks and channels
  • stewardship of the natural resource values of the lands and waters

II. Encourage TVA to operate the reservoir system for sustainable* growth and keep commitments (water temperature, minimum stream flows, etc.) to existing industry and communities.

(*Sustainable: activities that support future generations both human and non-human, restore and maintain healthy eco-systems, and prevent the creation of intergenerational debt.)

Express to TVA the subcommittee’s concern about the atmospheric deposition of rising mercury levels in the lake/reservoir waters.

III. Lake/Reservoir water-level management:

A. We recommend that TVA re-examine its policies impacting lake levels and that TVA’s re-examination efforts include consideration of both the costs and benefits of any potential changes to policies impacting lake levels.

B. We recommend that TVA begin such formal re-evaluation as soon as possible.

C. We recommend that TVA establish a “critical path” approach and consider doing the water quality portion of the over-all Environmental Impact Study in the early stages to establish the water quality parameters of the entire Tennessee River system before any, other than minor, change decisions to the integrated river management by TVA are made. The water quality portion of the study should include consideration of the applicable water quality laws in each of the seven states of the TVA region.

D. We recommend that TVA incorporate public participation in its studies to ensure the credibility of the studies. We recommend that this include forming one or more ad hoc committees which would include, among others, members of the Regional Resource Stewardship Council.

E. While the more comprehensive study is being completed, we encourage the target date for unrestricted drawdown of the TVA lakes be delayed beyond August 1, beginning this fiscal year, for as many days as possible within the existing legal and operational constraints of TVA.

Subcommittee Membership

The IRM subcommittee reached consensus on the recommendations. The members are Roger Bedford, Chair; Austin Carroll; Phil Comer; Bill Forsyth; Tom Griffith; Miles Mennell; W. C. Nelson; Darrell Corpening; Jack Marcellis; Tom Vorholt; and Stephen Smith. II

 

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