TVA Studies Economic Impact, Deals with Heavy Rains

May 11, 2017

Spectators watch Norris Dam's first major spill in four years, Sunday, May 7, 2017.
Credit Brandon Hollingsworth/WUOT News

Earlier this month, the Tennessee Valley Authority released a report that, for the first time, placed a dollar value on recreation on the agency's 49 reservoirs. That total, calculated by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, is about $11.9 billion dollars. The study also showed reservoir recreation helps support close to 130,000 jobs in TVA's seven-state region. Future studies may examine the economic effect of land-based activities on TVA property.

Last year, one of TVA's big concerns was a lack of water. River and lake levels sank as a protracted drought played out over most of 2016. This year, at least so far, the concern has been the opposite: too much water. Heavy rains over the winter and into spring swelled tributaries and lakes that feed into the Tennessee River. That forced TVA to activate flood gates and spillways at some of its major dams. One of them, Norris Dam along the Clinch River, saw its first spill in four years.

In this web exclusive conversation, WUOT's Brandon Hollingsworth talks about these topics with TVA River Forecast Center manager Tom Barnett and TVA Tourism Development Strategist Jerry Fouse.