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TVA’s Involvement in Water Supply for the Tennessee Valley Region

TVA promotes the wise use, conservation and development of the water resources of the TVA region in carrying out a variety of water supply activities.

Issuing water withdrawal permits

TVA issues permits for all water intake structures. Learn how to apply for a water withdrawal permit. As a condition of these permits, applicants are required to report 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).

Meeting water-temperature discharge limits

TVA manages the river flow through dams to provide cooling water for its coal-fired and nuclear power plants. One method it employs is to use the cooler water from the bottom of reservoirs, which reduces the cost of power production, provides savings for consumers and helps ensure that power plants can stay online to meet power-system peaks.

Promoting water-supply planning

Federal and state policymakers recognize that cooperation and coordination are essential for water-supply planning in the years ahead. TVA works with local and state governments to promote regional water-supply planning and project implementation. In 2004, a watershed-wide partnership with states in the region was formed to:

  • Improve regional cooperation in water resource management
  • Provide a framework for coordination and information exchange among the states.

In addition to government agencies, this partnership could eventually include private utilities, coalitions, advocacy groups, regulators and industry, all key players in planning for the future of the region’s water. TVA also provides information and data for use in community-based planning efforts, and our scientists provide technical support to state agencies on regional supply issues.

Growth Readiness

Through the Growth Readiness program, TVA helps communities learn how land-use decisions affect water quality. The program helps planners, public works officials, and other community leaders:

  • Comply with regulatory requirements
  • Make informed decisions about how to grow and prosper without jeopardizing the water resources necessary for future development
  • Evaluate their development rules using model principles developed by the Center for Watershed Protection
  • Lead a consensus-building process for adopting new rules and planning practices.

Officials from four communities helped develop and pilot the program. The Southeast Watershed Forum, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, the University of Tennessee's Water Resources Research Center and TVA provided assistance. Since its start in the fall of 2003, Growth Readiness has reached more than 460 planners, public works officials and other community leaders serving more than 300 communities in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. As a result, over 120 communities have changed or will change their development rules to reduce water resource impacts.

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.

Reducing the Impact of Droughts

The TVA Act lists flood control as one of TVA’s primary objectives. But in dry years, making the best use of the available water is an equally important responsibility.

TVA helps minimize local water shortages during drought conditions 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.

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