Ecological health conditions in Blue Ridge Reservoir rated “good” in 2017. Blue Ridge has consistently rated among the highest of all the reservoirs monitored by TVA.
The ecological health of Blue Ridge Reservoir has been monitored using the same methodology since 1994. Ecological health evaluations focus on five indicators: dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll, sediment quality, benthic macroinvertebrate community (bottom life), and the fish assemblage. TVA monitors one location on Blue Ridge Reservoir, the forebay (Toccoa River Mile 54.1), near the dam.
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>72 = Good
59-72 = Fair
<59 = Poor
Dissolved oxygen rated “fair” because concentrations were low in a small area along the bottom in late summer. Dissolved oxygen has rated “good” or “fair” in all previous years except 2007 when it rated “poor”. The “poor” rating was due to low concentrations in the lower water column during September and October and was likely a result of the extended drought in that year.
Chlorophyll rated “good”. Chlorophyll concentrations are typically low in Blue Ridge Reservoir, resulting in “good” ratings for this indicator.
The fish community rated “fair”. Historically, ratings for the fish community have varied between “good” and “fair”. In 2017, a total of sixteen species of fish was observed. Spotted bass, redbreast sunfish, and bluegill were the most abundant species collected. Largemouth bass abundance has remained constant in the samples, while spotted bass numbers have slowly increased.
Bottom life rated “good”. Ratings have varied between “good”, “fair”, and “poor” with no specific trend through time. Years with “good” ratings are attributed to more organisms having been collected, as well as the occurrence of some sensitive individuals (e.g., Hexagenia mayflies).
Sediment quality rated “good” because no PCBs or pesticides were detected and concentrations of metals were within suggested background levels. Sediment quality typically rates “good”, although it rated “fair” in 2011 due to slightly elevated concentrations of arsenic and the detection of low levels of PCBs.
TVA maintains a program to examine contaminants in fillets of fish collected from TVA reservoirs and their major tributary streams on a rotational basis. The data collected from this program are distributed to the state officials who are responsible for placing or removing fish tissue consumption advisories on those bodies of water. For information on advisories currently in effect for Blue Ridge Reservoir, visit the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.