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How TVA Manages Aquatic Plants

Fishermen love aquatic plants; the more, the better—after all, they provide habitat for bass and the species they feed on. But too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing! When aquatic plants block access for recreational use, management is often necessary.

It’s a matter of finding balance.  According to a UT study, the Tennessee River is worth about $1 million per mile of shoreline 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 as needed when recreational use and/or access are hindered.

When necessary, management consists of applying EPA-approved aquatic herbicides in public areas near the shore where access is limited. TVA may use a harvester to cut a lane into deeper water and mow shorelines to increase public access. The TVA airboats you may see out on the water are surveying to determine where treatment is needed. Contractors apply the treatment later.

Invasive plants, such as milfoilhydrilla and hybrid eelgrass, are the most likely to be managed as they are the most likely to grow out of control and block lake access. Hydrilla, for example, has been called the kudzu of the water—it can grow up to four inches per stem per day. When it grows out of control, it can keep anglers from getting their boats on the lake and crowd out fish life underwater.

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

Help Control the Spread of Aquatic Weeds

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

  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 in the Tennessee River system.