Boone Reservoir

As in previous years, the ecological health of Boone Reservoir rated poor in 2011. Throughout the years, each indicator at all sample locations has exhibited some stress: high concentrations of chlorophyll, low dissolved oxygen concentrations, fair fish assemblage, poor bottom life and elevated concentrations of metals and/or the presence of organic contaminants in the sediments.

TVA monitors three locations on Boone Reservoir—the deep, still water near the dam, called the forebay, and two mid-reservoir locations—usually on a two-year cycle.

Ecological Health Indicators at Boone Reservoir — 2011

Monitoring location Dissolved
Chlorophyll Fish Bottom

Forebay Poor Poor Fair Fair Fair
Mid-reservoir (South Holston) Poor Poor Fair Fair Fair
Mid-reservoir (Watauga River) Good Poor Fair Fair Fair

Dissolved oxygen

Dissolved oxygen rated poor at the forebay and South Holston mid-reservoir monitoring locations and good at the Watauga mid-reservoir location. Dissolved oxygen concentrations have varied considerably from year to year and from site to site. Weather conditions and the related changes in reservoir flows are a major factor in these differences.


Chlorophyll concentrations were elevated at all monitoring locations, rating poor. High chlorophyll concentrations are a common problem on Boone, typically rating poor or at the low end of the fair range.


As in previous years, the fish community rated fair at all three monitoring locations. TVA did not collect as many species as expected and found relatively few intolerant species (species known to require good water quality conditions).

Bottom life

Bottom life rated fair at all monitoring locations. Most of the animals collected were species able to tolerate poor water quality conditions. For all locations, bottom life typically rates poor or at the low end of the fair range.


Sediment quality rated fair at all monitoring locations. PCBs were detected at all sites. The concentration of arsenic was slightly above suggested background levels in the forebay and the concentration of chromium was slightly elevated at the South Holston River mid-reservoir site. Problems with metals and organic contaminants have persisted over the years; chlordane and PCBs have been present in the sediments at all monitoring locations, and elevated levels of copper and sometimes zinc have been present at the Watauga River mid-reservoir site.  These metals (arsenic, chromium, copper and zinc) naturally occur in soils but  can also originate from many sources. Their concentrations in sediments deposited in the reservoir are generally near—slightly above or below—suggested background concentrations.

Fish consumption advisories

Boone Reservoir—TVA maintains a program to examine contaminants in fish fillets from TVA reservoirs and their major tributary streams on a rotational basis. The data collected from this program is distributed to the state officials who are responsible for placing or removing fish tissue consumption advisories on those bodies of water. For information on advisories currently in effect for Boone Reservoir, visit the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency's fish guidebook.