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Fontana Dam Safety

Highway 28S
Fontana Dam, North Carolina

Inspection, Maintenance and Repair 

On Monday, July 9, 2018, visitors to Fontana Dam were treated to a rare and beautiful site: a “rooster tail,” which is a large surge of water through two small spill pipes below the dam, along with all associated rainbows. The occasion? TVA was opening and closing the dam’s four spillway gates in order to test them for mechanical integrity as a part of its ongoing dam safety program. 

The process was designed to gather data on the gates’ trunnions, according to Laura Groce, senior manager, Dam Safety Services. “This test allowed us to measure strains in the gate trunnions while the gates were being opened and closed. The data will be used to analyze the gate system,” she explains. Gate trunnions anchor the gate to the dam’s concrete and serve as the pivot point about which the gate rotates. All forces acting on the gate go through the trunnion into the concrete, making the trunnion a key component of the gate system.

Mike Morrison, senior program manager for TVA Dam Safety, agrees. “We had a successful test with good results at Fontana,” he says. “This type of testing is part of TVA's investment to make sure our dams are reliable and work well to deliver flood control, electric power, recreation and other services to the people in the Tennessee Valley.”

Mike Morrison

Mike Morrison and Travis Simpson of TVA’s Dam Safety team stand atop Fontana Dam after testing the dam’s four spillway gates for mechanical integrity. The testing is part of TVA’s ongoing dam safety program.

Emergency Contact Information for Residents near Fontana Dam 


Swain County Emergency Management

55 East Ridge Dr.
Bryson City, N.C. 28713

Director: David Breedlove
Non-emergency contact: Phone (828) 488-6021
After hours: (828) 488-2196
Email: [email protected]

Graham County Emergency Management 

70 West Fort Hill Rd
Robbinsville, N.C. 28771

Director: Larry Hembree
Email: [email protected]
Non-emergency contact: (828)479-7967
Fax: (828) 479-6599
Email: [email protected]