Good Medicine for Fontana Dam

TVA engineers are doing some smart preventive maintenance on TVA’s majestic Fontana dam to keep it strong and stalwart for generations to come.

JULY 3, 2017—As one of TVA’s most popular recreation destinations, Fontana Dam remains as scenic and stalwart as ever. And over the next several weeks, TVA’s River Management and Dam Safety teams are working together to make sure it stays that way.

fontana dam

The dam is experiencing a condition called alkali aggregate reaction (AAR), also known as concrete growth, which occurs when chemical reactions in the cement aggregate material cause swelling and stress. The condition is not causing any structural or stability problems at the dam. But AAR can eventually lead to difficulties in operating spillway gates and other dam mechanisms if left untreated over the long term.

To prevent that from happening, TVA is making highly tactical and engineered vertical slot cuts in the dam to proactively relieve the compression stress. Two slots will be cut starting mid-October, 5/8-inch wide and deep as 92 feet. The work is expected to be completed by November 22.

Concrete growth in dams is not a rare occurrence. TVA previously cuts slots in Fontana Dam in 2011. TVA continually monitors all of its dams to ensure they are performing as designed. Under a robust Dam Safety Program that includes inspections, instrumentation and independent reviews, TVA dams are managed and maintained with public and employee safety as top priority.

TVA dams control flooding along the Tennessee River and each year prevent about $240 million in flood damage in the TVA region and along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. To date, this system has prevented over $6.3 billion in flood losses across the Tennessee Valley, including about $5.7 billion in damage averted at Chattanooga—the Valley’s most flood-prone city.

Dam Safety Is a Top Priority at TVA

Keeping its dams performing well and the communities near them safe is a top priority for TVA. That's why TVA monitors its dams routinely and continuously updates its Dam Safety Program to meet current industry standards. Find out more about TVA’s Dam Safety Program.