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Response to Water Quality Subcommittee Recommendations

TVA response to Water Quality Subcommittee recommendations on aquatic plant management, dated May 18, 2001

October 23, 2001

Recommendation
TVA will assume the leadership responsibility for resolving problems with, and disputes over, aquatic plants within the Tennessee River system. TVA will take the lead in bringing stakeholders and technical experts together to discuss and define the problems, voice concerns, design management plans, and develop funding strategies. Administration, implementation, and financial responsibilities will be negotiated among local, state, and federal government agencies, TVA and other stakeholders.

TVA accepts this recommendation.

Recommendation
TVA has the responsibility for organizing the stakeholders, defining aquatic plant problem(s), and designing aquatic plant management plans. Because the Tennessee River is a federal waterway and because aquatic plant management is a routine activity of federal water management agencies, it is appropriate for TVA to pursue federal funding assistance for aquatic plant management. It is also appropriate for TVA to negotiate with local government and aquatic plant management beneficiaries to ask them to share an equitable portion of aquatic plant management costs. These negotiations should result in written financial agreements among the aquatic plant management partners to assure management program continuity.

TVA accepts the leadership role of initiating negotiations with appropriate stakeholder groups on the issue of shared funding. Potential sources of additional funding on some reservoirs include local or state governments, stakeholder groups, private citizens, and corporations.

Federal funds are no longer available to TVA, and existing legislation specifically identifies the funds other than federal appropriations that TVA is to use for its essential stewardship responsibilities. If federal funds become available from sources other than direct appropriations to TVA, or if Congress chooses to provide appropriations to TVA for the purpose of aquatic plant management, such funds could reduce the need for TVA’s portion of the funding of these activities from power revenues.

TVA will work with local and regional stakeholders to develop shared funding arrangements in cooperation with the various stakeholder groups as appropriate. The year-to-year fluctuations in funding requirements and the funding available to potential partners make it counterproductive to require that stakeholder groups make binding long-term financial commitments.

We acknowledge the advantages of having some local responsibility for shared funding and will work to develop such arrangements where possible. TVA requests additional guidance from the Council concerning the equitable sharing of costs among aquatic plant management beneficiaries.

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Recommendation
The planning team for any aquatic plant management plan must be composed of the range of all of the stakeholders from within the watershed who have an interest in aquatic plant management. A representative list of stakeholders should include, but not be limited to: local citizens; lakeside property owners; lake associations; recreational users (anglers, boaters, swimmers, hunters); marina owners; federal, state and local government natural resource and tourism agencies and elected officials; environmental and conservation groups; tourism interests; local businesses and industries and interested universities. The plan will clearly describe the problem(s) and define goals, objectives, strategies and evaluation techniques. The planning process will be open to the public. A scoping session to identify public concerns must be part of the process. Implementation plans will be conveniently available at TVA and cooperating stakeholder locations.

TVA accepts this recommendation as a confirmation of our existing policy of including all relevant stakeholder groups in aquatic plant management planning efforts and our current methods of documenting management plans.

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Recommendation
Annual goals and performance reports will be provided to the media by TVA, and/or designated stakeholders, and through public meetings in selected communities. On recurring aquatic plant management programs, the original stakeholder planning group will be converted into a stakeholder advisory group that will be used to monitor and apply adaptive management decisions to the management objectives.

TVA accepts the recommendation that aquatic plant management goals be established and performance reported. Each year prior to the beginning of the aquatic plant growing season, TVA will work with stakeholder planning groups to establish a plan for the areas to be managed. After the end of the growing season, TVA will report back to the planning group on the success of the plan in achieving its objectives. These stakeholder planning groups can continue to participate in the development and monitoring of aquatic plant management plans. We understand from the discussion at the August 29th RRSC meeting that you did not intend that these groups become official advisory committees as defined in the Federal Advisory Committee Act and that their continuing involvement in their present form meets the intent of your recommendation.

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Summary
TVA accepts the great majority of the recommendations associated with the Council’s recommended Policy for Managing Aquatic Plants.

We accept the leadership responsibility for resolving problems with and disputes over aquatic plants within the Tennessee River system.

TVA also accepts the leadership role of initiating negotiations with appropriate stakeholder groups on the issue of shared funding. However, as was discussed at the August 29th RRSC meeting, TVA does not feel that requirements for binding financial support agreements will be the best way

to develop partnering arrangements for aquatic plant management activities across the reservoir system. We will work with stakeholder groups at the various reservoirs to develop appropriate funding arrangements on a case-by-case basis. Although federal appropriations are not available for these programs, we will look for opportunities to develop shared funding agreements with local and state governments and other stakeholders.

We agree to work with stakeholder planning groups to establish annual plans for plant management and to report back to the groups on the success of the plans in achieving their objectives.

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