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Pickwick Reservoir

Installation of the Early Warning System is Complete at Pickwick Dam

TVA’s Pickwick Landing Reservoir will return to normal summer lake levels on schedule by mid-April, dependent on rainfall. The reservoir was lowered to winter pool levels several weeks early last fall after TVA’s analysis showed that a large earthquake could potentially damage the dam’s south embankment. While this type of seismic event is unlikely, the safety of downstream communities, industries, the public and our employees is our top priority. To lower the downstream risk, TVA will install an early warning system to notify downstream residents should such an earthquake occur.

image of dam

  • TVA has installed multiple layers of seismic detection equipment that will send a notification to TVA and the National Weather Service of any change in the embankment. If necessary, a notification for downstream residents to seek higher ground will be sent via the National Weather Service.
  • Anyone with a weather radio in the vicinity of Pickwick Dam will receive an alert in case of damage to the dam due to a major seismic event. TVA will provide weather radios to downstream area residents this spring.
  • Crews have installed cables that run the length of the embankment and detect even slight amounts of movement. Video and thermal cameras also are being installed.
  • The system includes:
    • Earthquake ground shaking monitoring equipment with alarm triggers for strong shaking
    • Automated systems, using technology known as Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR), triggered by strong motions
    • Tone Alert Systems
    • Instruments to detect earthquake induced damage to dam
    • Live video feeds and lock operations verification
    • Monitoring by operators in the TVA River Forecast and Operations Control Center 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
    • National Weather Service radios provided to homes in inundation area
    • National Weather Service will send alert if TDR is triggered
  • In the weeks ahead, TVA will work with local emergency management agencies, media and others to raise awareness of the alert system, educate the Pickwick community, and provide information.

Dam Information

Photo of sailboats at dock on Pickwick Reservoir

Pickwick Reservoir is located in southwest Tennessee. It extends 53 miles south from the dam along the Mississippi-Alabama state line and then east into Alabama. The dam was completed in 1938, and the first two of its six hydroelectric generating units began operation the same year.

Pickwick Landing Dam is a significant producer of hydroelectric power. It provides a flat pool of water that extends eastward to Wilson Dam in Alabama and covers a portion of the treacherous Muscle Shoals, which once hampered navigation on the Tennessee River.

Pickwick Reservoir has excellent sport-fishing areas, including the Wilson Dam tailwater at the upper end of the reservoir, noted for record-size smallmouth bass and catfish.

Pickwick is also popular for boating and water skiing. A large campground is located below the dam and includes 92 sites with water and electric (5 are accessible sites) and 8 tent sites without utilities.

More on Pickwick Reservoir

Operating guide

Daily reservoir operation information

Sportfish survey results

Sportfish ratings

Ecological health ratings

Tailwater improvements

Recreation facilities

Pickwick Landing Early Warning System

Brochure (720 kb, PDF)




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