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Is Your Reservoir Healthy?

You’ve probably been to the doctor lots of times when you weren’t even sick. It’s good to have an annual checkup, so if there’s anything wrong you can do something about it before it becomes a real problem.

photo of students and adults checking stream water
Students help measure the health of a stream on a field trip organized by TVA’s Pickwick Watershed Team.
The same thing is true for Valley reservoirs. TVA checks their condition regularly so we know where the problems are and what needs attention. Just as your doctor checks certain things to see if you’re healthy—your height, weight, temperature, and blood pressure, for example—TVA scientists look for answers to five important questions to tell if a reservoir is healthy:
  • Is there enough oxygen in the water for fish and other aquatic animals? Oxygen is just as important to life in the water as it is to life on land!
  • How much algae is in the water? A healthy reservoir has enough algae to feed the fish, but not so much that it causes problems. Too much algae can make the water murky and affect the amount of oxygen in the water.
  • Are there lots of different kinds and sizes of healthy fish?
  • Are there lots of different kinds of animals living in the mud on the reservoir bottom—worms, snails, crayfish and mussels, for example?
  • Does the mud on the bottom contain any unhealthy chemicals? Usually, these chemicals were deposited on the bottom a long time ago as a result of pollution from agriculture or industries along the shoreline.

Check the health of a TVA reservoir near you at the reservoir ratings page on the TVA Web site.

So what does TVA do to improve water quality?

Good question! Read about the TVA watershed teams and the work they do every day to help keep our water clean

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