TELLICO VILLAGE - Hundreds of
residents packed into a Tellico Village
church hall Tuesday night to ask some
questions and get some answers about a
recent TVA project to improve flood control
on local waterways.
Residents were concerned about the cost, the
visual impact and the need for the $6
million project to raise the height of the
Tellico, Watts Bar, Fort Loudoun and
Cherokee dams using "sand basket" barriers.
unattractive. It looks like we're under
siege," said Tellico Village resident Rich
Probably the issue at the
top of most residents' agendas was the lack
of proper notification of the project.
"The lack of sharing and
getting information out was just pathetic,"
said resident Dennis Wielgos.
TVA tried to notify all
relevant agencies, including the Tennessee
Department of Transportation, Federal
Emergency Management Agency and the National
Weather Service, said Chuck Bach, TVA's
general manager of river scheduling. The
agency also made an effort to contact local
government officials and media, he said.
State Rep. Jimmy Matlock,
R-Loudon, said he took exception to the idea
that his office was properly notified of the
program. TVA sent an e-mail message to his
office but there was no attempt made to
discuss the impact of the decision before
work started, he said.
The result, Matlock said,
was the creation of a climate of unnecessary
fear and uncertainty among local residents.
Bach attempted to explain
the need for urgency in completing the
project while at the same time insisting
that the actual likelihood of the dam's
reaching overflow was extremely remote.
The need for the extra
height on the dams is based on new modeling
techniques and new data collection efforts
that raised the maximum probable flood
The agency takes dam
safety very seriously and was required to
act as soon as possible, Bach said. The
presence of nuclear power plants down river
increased the need to act as soon as the
increased risk was determined.
The risk of a severe flood
that would require the increased height of
the dams is about one event every few
hundred thousand years, Bach said. Still, he
said, the flood could come at any time and
the agency wanted to be prepared.
Bach acknowledged that
he'd been told the "sand boxes" on the dams
were ugly, but defended their use because
they represented the quickest solution to
the problem. The sand barriers will be used
for several years while a permanent fix is
created, he said.