Keeping Water Quality High

We all know it: Clean water is vitally important—for people, for plants and for animals. Though TVA doesn’t have the power to regulate water pollution, we care deeply about quality of the water resources we manage.

That’s why TVA monitors conditions in Valley waterways and supports a broad range of clean-water initiatives to protect and improve this precious resource. TVA works to create high water quality by collecting and sharing data with communities, industries and organizations; promoting clean marinas and clean boating; improving waters around TVA dams; and monitoring water quality throughout the watershed.

River System Monitoring

Knowledge is power, and the more we know about the health of our reservoirs, rivers and streams, the better we can protect them. Our waterways benefit from regular checkups just like we do. If we know their condition and can identify changes over time, we can take better care of them. That’s why we sample 528 stream sites on a five-year rotation and 69 sites on 31 reservoirs on a two-year rotation. Read more about reservoir ratings here.

Managing Water Supply

To keep water quality high, water quantity has to be managed effectively. That means balancing power production, navigational, industrial, agricultural and basic human needs—making sure there is enough water to go around under every circumstance, including drought conditions. Learn more about how TVA promotes wise use, conservation and development of the region's water resources.

Clean Marinas and Clean Boating

These programs focus on educating recreational boaters about safe practices for oil and gas control, sewage management and marina siting and operations. Marinas in compliance with the program have the right to fly the Tennessee Valley Clean Marina Initiative flag. Download a copy of the Tennessee Valley Clean Marina Guidebook (PDF, 457KB, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Clean boating events occur throughout the summer. Every boater can benefit from these tips on how to keep the water clean to enhance their own experience on the water.

Tailwater Improvements

Hydropower has its obvious advantages, but it also has some risks for aquatic life, too. One is low concentration of oxygen in the water released through the dam during generation of power, which can stress bottom dwellers; another is the risk of a dry riverbed when power generation is shut off. Since the early 90s, TVA has spent more than $60 million to remedy these two areas of trouble, pulsing releases through the dams to prevent dry beds and employing ingenious methods of introducing oxygen to depleted water. Read more about how TVA has maintains water quality in the former problem in a true success story: Boosting Oxygen in the Tennessee Valley Tailwater.

TVA Science Kids World Water Monitoring Program

Young scientists across the Valley are learning what it takes to assess the quality of water in their own backyards. “This program creates young citizen scientists who have discovered that their behavior can help keep the Valley’s waterways clean and its wildlife healthy,” says Rachel Terrell, TVA Public Outreach manager. Learn more about it.

Across the Tennessee River Basin

A collaboration between multiple organizations—including TVA, the Tennessee Aquarium and the Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperation—Across the Tennessee River Basin aims to deliver conservation actions for the Tennessee River watershed, one of the most diverse freshwater ecosystems in the world. The mainstem Tennessee River winds its way for roughly 650 miles through Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, back into Tennessee, and finally into Kentucky, where it empties into the Ohio River. Streams from these states, as well as North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia, feed the river along its course. Countless fish, mussels, invertebrates and plants depend on the river for survival. To find out how you can get involved with conservation efforts, or to learn more about this biodiversity hotspot, click here.