Melton Hill project aims to save resources for future generations
 GENE PATTERSON 6 News Anchor/Reporter

LENOIR CITY (WATE) - If you've visited Melton Hill Recreation Area in the past three years, you may have noticed some changes there. The changes are part of a unique experiment in sustainability. The goal is to save resources, not just for today, but for the future.

Unlike a busy summer weekend, only a few fishermen were at Melton Hill Dam Sustainable Recreation Area Thursday.

Among those was Indiana fisherman Derek Stafford. We caught up with him as he prepared chops for lunch. It wasn't the chops that brought him here.

"It's a nice facility. They don't have anything like this up north. That, with access with restrooms and clean as they're kept. So I like them as far as being a fisherman, so I'm not going to complain," he said.

What Stafford and the more than 350,000 visitors who come here each year don't know is this site is a giant 92-acre lab experiment.

For the past three years, TVA has implemented a program of energy efficiency, water conservation and renewable power generation. This includes solar arrays in different configurations, energy efficient sinks and toilets. Even pavers which allow water to filter down and reduces run-off are all part of the experiment..

"One of the neat things about this lab is that we've taken a recreation area and turned it into a laboratory and collect this data without being intrusive," said Bucky Edmondson with TVA.

All these innovations amount to about 51,000 kilowatt hours in savings. That's enough to power four homes for a year. That may not sound like much, but savings isn't the only reason for this project.

"TVA's mission here is to be good stewards to the public, and this project is an example of our efforts to demonstrate sustainability, showcase the technologies and offer it to the public," said Steve Halcomb with TVA.

TVA says it is likely what is learned here will eventually wind up in other TVA recreation areas in the valley.