Jan 10 2009
06:19 am


The Tennessee Valley Authority was found in violation of the state's Water Quality Control Act of 1977 after sludge from the No. 3 Ocoee Dam was released into the Ocoee River on Sunday.

Previously at KnoxViews:

"Sludge-like material" released into Ocoee River

TDEC preliminary report on TVA Ocoee #3 sludge release

Commentary: TVA's Ocoee sediment discharge

TDEC follow up on questions re. Ocoee discharge

Rachel's picture

Pretty good story, although

Pretty good story, although it doesn't mention the toxic crap that was in the sludge, nor any concern about downstream impacts.

I guess that will show up when the lab report comes back.

BTW, the level of disengenuousness (is that a word?) coming from TVA on this one is pretty high. "It's just mud, like the mud on the bottom of any reservior." Well, yeah, it's mud. But no, it's NOT like mud on the bottom of any reservior. This particular mud is full of years of toxic Copper Basin runoff.

"Lowering lake levels is normal for repair operations." Well, yes, one would think so. But how is that normally done - particularly at this dam - by spilling or opening the bottom sluice gate? If it's opening the sluice gate, then why are folks at the Outdoor Center say they haven't seen this kind of thing since the center opened in the mid 90s?

Don't know the answer; AM curious.

Rachel's picture

Here is TDEC's notice of

Here is TDEC's notice of violation to TVA. It includes a couple of pictures.

Rachel's picture

Ok, I confess to

Ok, I confess to bafflement.

In a story in this morning's print edition of the KNS, River Operations Manager Chuck Bach says the sluice gate is open "several times a year for operations and maintenance."

In a story on this afternoon's KNS website, spokesperson Barbara Martocci (she of "it's just mud from the river bottom, like the mud from any other river bottom) says the gates are open "30 to 40 times a year to move water for recreation."

Perhaps those two statements aren't inconsistent, but they seem a bit off to me.

Bach also says he doesn't know why there was such a big sediment release. I can understand why he's baffled. If the gates are open 30 to 40 times a year, how the heck did 3.5 feet of sediment pile up behind them?

R. Neal's picture

Ok, I confess to

Ok, I confess to bafflement.

Maybe they are lying, like they do about everything else, like the Widows Creek spill?

Tess's picture

So sad

As someone has mentioned before, TVA has contracted out everything that does not relate to the corporate offices.

Rachel's picture

Tess, that's not strictly

Tess, that's not strictly true, although TVA does use a lot of contractors. FWIW, my husband's group lost their entire contractor budget this FY, although they only lost a few employees.

WhitesCreek's picture

There's gates and then

There's gates and then there's gates.

The gates that are opened for recreational water releases are at the lake surfaces.

The gate that was opened for this mess is at the bottom of the dam. Where does the goop live?

Rachel's picture

The gates that are opened

The gates that are opened for recreational water releases are at the lake surfaces.

The gate that was opened for this mess is at the bottom of the dam. Where does the goop live?

The goop lives on the bottom.

My understanding is that's the difference between spilling and sluicing. Spilling is water at the top; sluicing is from the bottom.

I know that the water released for recreational purposes is first released from Blue Ridge becausue Ocoee #3 doesn't store enough water (it's 75% sediment or something like that). It makes sense to me that they'd then SPILL that water when it gets to Ocoee #3. But it was the bottom sluice gate that was opened last week, and Martocci and Bach both make it sound like that sluice gate is regularly opened (Martocci said specifically for recreation).

Why would you release the water coming from Blue Ridge for recreation from the bottom of Ocoee #3 when you know it's got a bunch of nasty sediment in it? Is there some kind of structural problem with spilling?

Or is TVA being disengenuous (or worse)?

I truly can't tell, and I'd really like to know.

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