TVA Improves Water Quality at Ocoee No. 1 by Ending Winter Drawdown

Visitor’s to TVA’s Ocoee No.1 Reservoir (a.k.a. Parksville Lake) this fall will see deeper water and improved water quality in the future, thanks to TVA’s ongoing work to mitigate environmental devastation caused by a century of local copper mining.

OCTOBER 17, 2016—Beginning this fall, as part of its continuing commitment to environmental stewardship, TVA will no longer draw Ocoee No. 1 Reservoir down to its winter pool level. Winter drawdown, which normally starts in November, will not take place for at least the next several years. The reservoir will remain at or near its current full summer level (about seven feet above former winter pool) for the foreseeable future.

The change will have no significant impacts on recreation or TVA power operations. It will, however, help avert potential environmental problems from the area’s Copper Basin mining operations that occurred from the 1850s to the 1980s.

Savvy Use of Sediment

Higher water year-round will protect water quality by preventing spread of contaminated mining waste buried in the sediment at the eastern end of the Parksville Lake on the Ocoee River. The contamination is a legacy of Copper Basin, where more than a century of copper mining, smelting, and clear-cutting of forests resulted in some of the most severe environmental damage ever caused by human enterprise.

TVA’s operations change at Ocoee No. 1 supports EPA’s 2011 decision that keeping the sediment inundated year-round under deeper water would result in settling of the sediment to help improve water quality. The copper mine waste poses little or no public health while buried beneath the sediment at the bottom of the reservoir. Keeping sediment inundated in deep water is the best way to prevent impacts on water quality.

“Managing the river system goes hand-in-hand with good environmental stewardship, and both are vital to TVA’s Mission,” says David Bowling, general manager, TVA River Management. “Keeping the water level higher here is the latest step in TVA’s continuing efforts to protect, restore and sustain the environmental health of this area that was once devastated by mining operations.”

Restoring Land and Water

Copper Basin comprises about 23,000 acres ruined by copper mining practices. Runoff from the area has deposited over the years at Parksville Lake. TVA and many partners have worked since 1941 to restore the to health the land and water surrounding the site, planting more than 17 million trees, seeding, fertilizing and more to reclaim more than 11,025 acres and area streams. Click here for more information about TVA’s environmental stewardship at Copper Basin.

Reservoir drawdown in the future is expected to occur only for required maintenance about every three to five years or in the event of an emergency. TVA will reach out to local residents and media when drawdowns occur. Lake level information also is available at