TVA Begins Drawdowns in the Beech River System

The Beech River system is a cluster of eight TVA reservoirs built in the 1960’s that provide flood damage reduction, recreational opportunities and water supply in west Tennessee. Now these dams will get their five-year health check. 

APRIL 2, 2018—Just like people, dams need regular checkups. Beginning the week of April 9, TVA will draw down water levels at Beech, Cedar, Pine and Pin Oak reservoirs to conduct dam health checks. The week long drawdown—to a foot below normal elevation—will allow TVA’s Dam Safety personnel to conduct routine five-year safety checks. TVA will return the reservoirs to normal operating levels as soon as the inspections are completed.

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“Operating the dams safely is our top priority,” says Ben Phillips, manager of Dam Safety Inspections. “TVA dams benefit the people of the Valley, and we work hard to make sure they operate as intended and meet today’s stringent industry safety standards.”

According to Phillips, TVA has invested more than $360 million on dam improvement since 2010. This investment also incorporates an inspection protocol that includes monthly, biannual, annual and 5-year inspections to identify any sign of erosion or any other issue that may cause concern.

Phillips said the checks at the area dams are part of TVA’s comprehensive Dam Safety program which includes inspections, maintenance, independent reviews and monitoring with state of the art instruments and technology.

At the Beech dams, TVA crews will also perform visual inspection of the sluices—water release gate near the base of the dam—as part of the health check. The public may view the inspections, but for safety purposes, TVA reminds everyone to remain a safe distance from any work area or equipment and obey all posted signs and safety barriers.

After the inspections are completed Phillips’ team will review the data to ensure the Beech River dams, which are more than 50 years old, are operating properly.

The Beech River system is a cluster of eight TVA reservoirs built in the 1960’s that provide flood damage reduction, recreational opportunities and water supply. In total TVA operates 49 dams, including many earthen structures, in the utility’s seven-state region.

Protecting human life and property through flood control is part of TVA’s core mission. As a result, TVA’s dams and river management has helped avert more than $7 billion in flood damage over the years. 

In addition to flood control, recreation on TVA reservoirs is important to the Tennessee Valley— contributing about $12 billion per year to the regional economy, or the equivalent of about $1 million per shoreline mile.