Watauga

At more than 1,900 feet above sea level, Watauga holds the distinction of being the highest reservoir in the Tennessee River system. The reservoir is managed for many uses, including flood damage reduction, power generation, water quality and aquatic ecology.

Surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest and flanked by the Appalachian Mountains, Watauga Reservoir is one of the most scenic in the Tennessee River watershed. It offers access to the Appalachian Trail. Below Watauga Dam is a wildlife observation area where visitors have a chance to view unique species of wintering waterfowl, including buffleheads, mallards, American black ducks, gadwalls, ring-necked ducks, lesser scaups and other ducks including canvasbacks, redheads and scoters.

Watauga: Facts + Figures

  • Construction of Watauga Dam began in early 1942 but was curtailed later that year in favor of other wartime building efforts. Work resumed in 1946, and the dam was completed in 1948.
  • Watauga Dam is 318 feet high and extends 900 feet across the Watauga River.
  • Watauga Dam is a hydroelectric facility. It has two generating units with a net dependable capacity of 66 megawatts. Net dependable capacity is the amount of power a dam can produce on an average day, minus the electricity used by the dam itself.
  • In a year with normal rainfall, the water level in the reservoir varies about 11 feet from summer to winter to provide for seasonal flood storage.
  • Watauga has a flood-storage capacity of 152,800 acre-feet.

More Information on Watauga Reservoir

Daily Lake Level

Sport Fish Survey Results

Ecological Health Ratings

Recreation Facilities

Recreation Release Schedule

The Unified Development of the Tennessee River plan stressed TVA was to provide flood control, navigation and electricity for the region. TVAs dams are tangible evidence of its primary mission: improving life in the Tennessee Valley. We’re celebrating the 80th anniversary of the plan with a yearlong look at 26 dams it inspired.

 

The Town that Wouldn’t Drown

From the time of its founding in the 1760s, Butler, Tenn., was constantly inundated with floodwaters from the Watauga River—so much that flooding was considered a way of life. TVA was eventually convinced to correct conditions in the region by building Watauga Dam, and Butler became the largest and only incorporated town ever to be deluged in the building of a reservoir. But rather than let it be dissolved, TVA helped move the whole town to higher ground. Read the amazing story of Butler.