When TVA uses the water of the Ocoee River to generate electricity, the river channel is a bed of dry rocks, with just enough water in places for swimming.
But when TVA diverts the water for recreation, the river churns with whitewater excitement. Water provided by TVA brings two famed stretches of the river to life: the one-mile Olympic whitewater course, fed by releases of water from Ocoee Dam No. 3, and a four-and-a-half-mile rafting area, fed by water from Ocoee No. 2.
Youd never know it, but the surge of wild water that pours down the whitewater course when TVA turns on the spigot is carefully controlled.
For world-class whitewater competition, the water flow through the course cant vary significantly. A precision gauge gives TVA and competition officials up-to-the-minute information on water flow, and TVA adjusts releases from its dams accordingly.
The water originates in north Georgia, some 28 miles away, and is fed into the course from Ocoee No. 3, two and a half miles upstream. Since the water takes a couple of hours to reach the course, TVA must time releases to occur at least that much earlier than scheduled competitions.
When the whitewater course isnt in use, the water from Ocoee No. 3 is channeled via a two-and-a-half-mile-long tunnel through the mountains to the powerhouse downstream, where it generates electricity.
Water for the Ocoee rafting area is released from Ocoee No. 2. When the water is needed for power generation, a long wooden flume diverts it to another powerhouse nearly five miles downstream.