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Regional Resource Stewardship Council
Responses to Discussion Questions

May 2006 meeting
Questions related to TVA’s infrastructure stewardship and emergency preparedness and coordination efforts

TVA has mission-based responsibilities for stewardship of water and land-based resources and infrastructure throughout the Tennessee Valley. TVA conducts programs to maintain this infrastructure and to coordinate with appropriate local, state, and federal agencies in the event of emergencies.

At the May 2006 Regional Resource Stewardship Council meeting, TVA provided information on these programs and asked the Council to respond to six questions. Their responses are as follows:

1. How do you perceive the adequacy of TVA’s infrastructure stewardship activities?

Strengths

  • TVA can’t do more than it’s doing now.
  • Given the vastness of the facilities, TVA does a good job with the infrastructure it has. The integrity of the infrastructure is good.
  • Passion for infrastructure stewardship activities by the TVA staff is commendable.
  • Commend TVA on the thoroughness of its preventive maintenance program.

Weaknesses

  • Given the financial constraints, there is too much to be done for TVA to accomplish all that needs to be done in all its infrastructure.
  • Reports by the Hydro Review Board are not available to the public.

2. Do you have any suggestions for improvement in TVA’s infrastructure stewardship activities?

  • Respect the confidence and expertise of TVA staff; however, an outside audit is necessary.
  • Need periodic third-party audit of infrastructure, perhaps by the Department of Homeland Security or other qualified group, in addition to the TVA peer review process. A report should be made available to the public.
  • Council is not qualified to make judgments regarding TVA’s infrastructure stewardship activities. Third-party, independent audit is good idea for independent validation of TVA’s infrastructure stewardship activities/emergency preparedness activities.
  • Perhaps the USACE and TVA could evaluate and validate each other’s infrastructure stewardship activities.
  • Re-emphasis on public education on water intakes, outflows, and for those who manage the facilities.
  • Make sure TVA is informed of current, credible threats known by the federal government, possibly through participation in NIMS.
  • Conduct real-world exercises, in addition to tabletop exercises, on a periodic basis to truly test response capabilities.
  • Be cautious about placing additional burdens on TVA to fix problems across the system.

3. How do you perceive the adequacy of TVA’s emergency preparedness and coordination efforts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state and local agencies?

Strengths

  • Commend TVA for their efforts in the myriad of details involved in emergency preparedness, training, and exercises.
  • Commend TVA on its willingness to work with the USACE, state and local agencies, and the reciprocity of cooperation with those agencies.

Weaknesses

4. Do you have any suggestions for improvement in TVA’s emergency preparedness and coordination efforts?

  • Encourage partnerships with agencies to get information and training to local EMAs and local governments.
  • The efforts seem fragmented, different teams deal with different pieces of infrastructure (dams, transmission, bridges). Need to ensure that there is an overarching committee to oversee those activities and ensure completeness of the process.
  • Need an agency-wide group to provide guidance to the other groups on specific issues.

5. Has TVA considered a full range of options for Bear Creek Dam?

  • Find David Nye, form interagency teams, similar to ROS. Need good management of the process.
  • Need to evaluate the priorities of facilities, studies to be undertaken, and determine what is essential to TVA’s core mission.
  • Public scoping should involve information on the cost of all options. If the public and local governments are aware of the long-term costs to them, perhaps those funds could be re-directed to fix the seepage problems.
  • No more cost burdens should be placed on local governments.
  • Too premature in the process to say that local governments should not share in the cost burden.
  • Consider that the ratepayers have already paid for remedial activities to try and preserve the dam as is. Ratepayer money that has been spent should be considered as their contribution and not make them contribute any more money. Opposed to any other power funds being spent on this project.
  • The total ratepayer cost should not be more than the cost estimated for a breach of the dam ($4-5M).
  • Form a stakeholder forum, similar to the group formed for Guntersville aquatic plants issues.
  • Council is divided as to how the cost should be allocated for the preferred alternative.
  • NEPA process needs to work through the cost-benefits and address those issues in a public forum.
  • Determine if this is a federal, state or local issue, and the secondary impacts/costs to TVA.
  • The council recommends that Federal Appropriations be used to help pay the cost.
  • Need to apply whatever decisions are made in this study across the basin to other non-power dams.
  • Based on analysis of Bear Creek, provide benchmark to be used on other non-power dams, including karst/sinkhole issues.
  • Safety issues should be dealt with first to protect lives and property.

6. What other options should be considered?

 

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