tva logoTennessee Valley Authority

Key Topic

River Management

TVA manages the 652-mile Tennessee River and its many tributaries to meet vital public needs in six key areas: navigation, flood damage reduction, power production, water quality and supply, recreation and land use.


TVA provides these benefits by storing rainfall and runoff in the tributary reservoirs and releasing water as needed to maintain a minimum navigational depth, re-establish flood storage space, generate hydroelectric power, supply cooling to TVA's coal and nuclear power plants, maintain water quality and aquatic habitat, and support recreation.

Key points

  • Businesses and industries throughout the eastern United States rely on TVA's management of the Tennessee River for the reliable, cost-effective transportation of about 50 million tons of cargo each year. The river's availability as a competitive transportation option also helps to keep truck and rail prices down.
  • In an average year, TVA prevents about $240 million in flood damage in the TVA region and along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers through the operation of 34 flood-control dams.
  • Twenty-nine hydroelectric dams on the Tennessee River system produce clean, economical electricity for TVA customers.
  • Four million people get their drinking water from the Tennessee River basin.
  • On average, locks along the Tennessee River provide passage for nearly 17,500 recreational craft annually, while water recreation attracts thousands of visitors each year.
  • TVA manages 11,000 miles of public shoreline and 293,000 acres of land along the Tennessee River and its tributaries, overseeing land use and development to protect wildlife habitat, preserve water quality and provide recreation opportunities.

Other information

  • TVA's integrated river control system consists of 49 dams, including nine dams on the Tennessee River, 39 dams on tributary rivers and a dam at TVA's Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Plant, which creates a mountaintop reservoir.
  • TVA's highest dam, and the highest dam east of the Mississippi River, is Fontana in Fontana Dam, N.C., with a height of 480 feet.
  • The Tennessee River watershed has one of the highest annual rainfall totals of any watershed in the United States, averaging 51 inches a year.

August 2010



Content for id "future1" Goes Here
Content for id "future2" Goes Here
Content for id "future3" Goes Here