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How TVA Manages Aquatic Plants

Fisherman love aquatic plants, and the more the better—after all, they provide habitat for bass and for the species they feed on. But the truth is, too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing! When aquatic plants become obstructive, blocking access for recreational use including fishing, management is often a necessity.

As with everything, it’s a matter of finding a balance. According to a 2017 UT study, the Tennessee River is worth about $12 billon to the local economy and creates about 130,000 jobs each year. TVA manages aquatic plants in small, developed public-access areas on its reservoirs on an as-needed basis when recreational use and/or access become seriously hindered.

Management—when and if it is deemed necessary—will consist of the application of EPA-approved aquatic herbicides in nearshore areas where access is limited. If necessary, TVA will use a harvester to cut a lane into deeper water, and may also mow shorelines to increase public access. The TVA airboats you may see out on the lakes are surveying to determine where treatment is needed (contractors apply the treatment later).

Invasive plants, such as milfoil and hydrilla, are the most likely to be managed as they are the most likely to grow out of control and block lake access in public areas. Hydrilla, for example, has been called the kudzu of the water—it can grow up to four inches per stem per day. Growing out of control, it can keep anglers from getting their boats on the lake—and crowd out fish life underwater. That's double jeopardy!

When aggressive invasive plants are controlled, beneficial native species—both plant and fish life—are encouraged and the overall health of the lake is improved. Click here to see our Aquatic Weeds Treatment Schedule.

You Can Help Control the Spread of Aquatic Weeds!

TVA needs your help to control aquatic plants and keep invasive species out of TVA Reservoirs.

According to TVA, non-native aquatic plant species like hydrilla and milfoil, were introduced into the Tennessee Valley by hitching rides on boat trailers or by people dumping fish tanks or water garden plants into the river.

To help TVA control invasive plants:

  1. Keep it Clean—Remove all plant material from boats, trailers, bilges, live wells and any other equipment. This will prevent troublesome aquatic species from being introduced into other TVA reservoirs.
  2. Native Water Gardening Only—Please plant only native species around shorelines. While non-native species like ornamental lilies and water hyacinth are beautiful, they will quickly spread if introduced into the river.
  3. Drain and Dry—When visiting reservoirs with known invasive plants, make sure all equipment is dry and free from fragments. Even completely dry fragments have the potential to grow once submersed again.
  4. No Dumping!—Please refrain from dumping unwanted aquarium or water garden plants into nearby streams and rivers. Dispose of any unwanted plants in the garbage.

Learn more about aquatic plants and how to fish them in the Tennessee River system at