Managing Water Supply

To keep water quality high, water quantity must be adequate and managed effectively to meet competing needs.

Part of TVA's river stewardship is not only managing the water system for flood control, navigation and recreation, but also to maintain adequate water supply for other crucial uses. There must be enough water available for TVA to cool its own nuclear and fossil power plants. There must be enough available to serve the agricultural and industrial customers who keep our economy strong. And there must be enough to support plant and animal life—including the drinking and cooking water that sustains human health.

Water Supply Challenges

The Tennessee River Watershed will add 1.2 million more residents to the existing 4.7 million by 2030, according to estimates by TVA and the U.S. Geological Study. (You can read more about that study’s water use projections here.) Additionally, growth in urban areas around the region—some of which are already facing water-supply challenges—will put increased pressure on the TVA region’s water resources.

TVA is working with other federal agencies, state and local governments, and communities across the TVA region to meet these challenges. The goal is working together to ensure adequate, sustainable supplies of water to support the region’s continued growth.

Issuing Water Withdrawal Permits

Because TVA promotes the wise use, conservation and development of the region’s water resources, it issues permits for all proposed water intake structures. Learn how to apply for a water withdrawal permit.

As a condition of these permits, applicants are required to report their annual usage. This data is used in tracking existing usage and evaluating proposed increases in withdrawals from the Tennessee River system. For a copy of the annual usage reporting form, click here (PDF, 158KB).

Reducing the Impact of Droughts

The TVA Act lists flood control as one of TVA’s primary objectives. But there's a flip side: In dry years, making the best use of the available water is an equally important responsibility.

TVA helps minimize drought impacts by managing river flows to keep reservoir levels above water intake structures. Without the TVA system of dams and reservoirs, the surface water supply would be much less reliable than it is today.

Improving Water Quality

TVA’s Watershed Teams work with municipal water suppliers, elected officials, community activists and economic development executives to protect and improve local surface and groundwater supplies by sharing water quality monitoring results, providing technical assistance and facilitating community-based actions.

TVA also protects the region’s drinking water by ensuring that reservoir levels stay above municipal and industrial intake structures along the river system and monitoring river temperatures to prevent algal growth from causing problems with taste and odor. Special reservoir operations are conducted as necessary to assist local water suppliers in dealing with accidental releases of contaminants that sometimes take place.

Contact Information

For issues related to flow or water elevations on regulated water bodies, please contact:

For other water supply information, please contact:

River Recycled

The Tennessee River is the most heavily used river in the United States. It is also the most recycled—96 percent of what gets used gets returned. Read our feature story about how TVA Water Supply works to keep the river optimally balanced at all times.