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Regional Resource Stewardship Council
Response to Integrated River Management Subcommittee

TVA’s response to Subcommittee policy recommendations on TVA’s integrated management of the Tennessee River system, dated May 18, 2001

October 23, 2001

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

TVA accepts this recommendation with the caveat that we must continue our commitment to flood risk reduction along with the other roles you list. We will continue our focus on supporting prosperity in the Valley through our integrated management of the river and power systems.

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

TVA accepts this recommendation and will study watershed-wide trends in growth and water use in order to identify potential limitations on future development, water use, and river health.

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

TVA takes note of your concern. To date, our data do not indicate that mercury levels associated with atmospheric deposition are increasing. We will continue to monitor the reservoir water quality for this and other potential problems and will make that data available to the public.

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 and that TVA begin this formal re-evaluation as soon as possible. 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.

TVA accepts these recommendations and will begin the formal study in FY 2002.

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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.

TVA accepts this recommendation to incorporate public participation, and we hope that members of the Council will continue to contribute their hard-won understanding of the issues and personal perspectives on the issues as we begin this two-year task. TVA staff will work with the Council to identify appropriate and effective methods for incorporating Council and stakeholder priorities for TVA’s management of the reservoir system.

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.

TVA could not make a commitment to delay drawdown of tributary reservoirs this year due to the extended dry weather experienced for the past few years and the potential for thermal and power transmission problems associated with expected high August temperatures. However, heavy rain received in late July and early August resulted in higher reservoir levels for several additional weeks on many of the tributaries.


TVA accepts the Council’s recommendations concerning the Integrated Management of the Tennessee River system, except for the request that we delay reservoir drawdowns this year.

TVA will initiate a comprehensive re-evaluation of TVA’s policies that affect reservoir levels in FY 2002. We request that the Council work with us to provide additional guidance on representing the value of the competing demands on the reservoir system.

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