Valleys waters show impressive signs of life
When TVA joined
wildlife workers in slipping 2,000 yearling lake sturgeon into the French
Broad River below Douglas Dam last year, the release marked a milestone
for aquatic life in the Tennessee River system. The reintroduction of
these once-plentiful fish exemplifies TVAs commitment to nurturing
clean, oxygen-rich waterways in which lake sturgeon and other imperiled
species can thrive and multiply.
for raw data.
2001 - 2002
focus will be primarily on critically eroding archaeological
sites on TVA land.
In 2000, as in
previous years, TVA gained ground in a number of projects aimed at improving
water quality, including its large-scale effort to stabilize shorelines.
Rainwater runoff and waves created by boat wakes can erode river banks
and reservoir shorelines, threatening aquatic life and damaging recreation
areas. Through its six-year-old shoreline-stabilization program, TVA
continues to stem erosion with bioengineering techniques like the use
of retaining walls and conservation buffers planted with native vegetation
that holds the soil along shorelines in place.
The agency has
strengthened its implementation of the Shoreline Management Policy,
which was established in 1999 to provide greater protection for crucial
resources while allowing reasonable public access to the water. In 2000
TVA streamlined the permit-application and appeals process and added
rules governing such issues as fuel-storage tanks, wastewater-treatment
systems, and flood-zone development.
chart for raw data.
The Shoreline Management
Policys success depends on the active involvement of local landowners.
In partnership with residents throughout the Tennessee Valley, TVA stabilized
and planted approximately 35.5 kilometers (22 miles) of shoreline last
year. Along Blue Creek in Humphries County, Tennessee, for example,
TVAs Kentucky Watershed Team joined local conservation groups
to stabilize 175 meters (575 feet) of eroding shoreline. The crews constructed
rock jetties, among other methods, to firm up the stream banks and preserve
the creeks flow.
Besides reducing erosion, TVA works hard to limit pesticide runoff from
farms. Illegal pesticide disposal and accidental spills threaten water
quality, so the agency is part of a collaborative effort to collect
and safely dispose of unused chemicals from agricultural sources before
they can seep into the groundwater or the river system. In cooperation
with federal and state agencies and industry trade associations, TVA
has helped properly dispose of almost 181 metric tons (200 tons) of
pesticide waste from Valley farms since 1998.
TVA operates its
reservoir system to assist its fossil and nuclear plants in complying
with temperature-permit requirements. Cooling-water discharges from
the agencys power plants (as well as other industrial facilities)
must fall within established temperature ranges to avoid causing ecological
problems. Despite warmer-than-normal weather and lower-than-normal flows
in many parts of the reservoir system during the summer of 2000, TVAs
discharges complied fully with the water-temperature limits required
by environmental and nuclear-safety regulations.
chart for raw data.
Good stewardship is an ongoing responsibility, and TVA continues to
set ambitious goals for the protection of the Valleys environment.
But the agency also takes pride in the fact that others have noticed
and applauded its achievements. The National Hydropower Association
(NHA), for instance, recognized two TVA facilitiesTennessees
South Holston and Norris hydropower plantsin its Outstanding
Stewardship of Americas Rivers report for 2000. South Holston
received praise as part of a release-improvement program that used aeration
techniques and increased flow levels below TVA dams to restore more
than 291 kilometers (180 miles) of aquatic habitat. Aeration equipment
now keeps the oxygen content between 4 and 6 milligrams per liter systemwide.
The NHA also noted the marked improvement in aquatic life below Norris
Dam, thanks to TVAs success in raising the level of life-sustaining
oxygen in the dams tailwaters.
chart for raw data.
These are just
a few of the steps TVA has taken to improve water quality around the
region. Theyre the kinds of efforts that help explain why another
river resident, the once-imperiled snail darter, is joining the lake
sturgeon in a strong comeback.
has undergone some earthshaking business changes throughout the past
decade. The Tennessee Aquarium and the Southeast Aquatic Research Institute
have repeatedly found TVA to be a solid conservation partner within
the region. TVA routinely manages water releases in the Tennessee River
system so that they contribute to, rather than inhibit, the systems
ability to support life.
Benz, Director, Southeast Aquatic Research Institute