Watts Bar Dam

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Watts Bar Dam

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Watts Bar Dam
USA Tennessee location map.svg
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Location of Watts Bar Dam in Tennessee
Official name Watts Bar Dam
Location Meigs County and Rhea County, Tennessee, United States
Coordinates 35°37′16.69″N84°46′53.75″W / 35.6213028°N 84.7815972°W / 35.6213028; -84.7815972 Coordinates: 35°37′16.69″N84°46′53.75″W / 35.6213028°N 84.7815972°W / 35.6213028; -84.7815972
Construction began July 1, 1939
Opening date January 1, 1942
Operator(s) Tennessee Valley Authority
Dam and spillways
Impounds Tennessee River
Height 112 ft (34 m)
Length 2,960 ft (900 m)
Reservoir
Creates Watts Bar Lake
Total capacity 1,175,000  acre⋅ft (1,449,000 dam3) [1]
Catchment area 17,310 sq mi (44,800 km2) [1]
Power Station
Commission date 1941-1944
Turbines 5 x 38 MW Kaplan-type
Installed capacity 190 MW [2]

Watts Bar Dam is a hydroelectric dam on the Tennessee River in Meigs and Rhea counties in Tennessee, United States. The dam is one of nine dams on the main Tennessee River channel operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, which built the dam in the early 1940s to provide flood control and electricity and to help create a continuous navigable channel along the entire length of the river. The dam is the technical boundary between the 39,090-acre (15,820 ha) Watts Bar Lake which it impounds and Chickamauga Lake, which stretches from the dam's tailwaters southward to Chattanooga.

Tennessee River river in the United States, its largest city is Knoxville, TN

The Tennessee River is the largest tributary of the Ohio River. It is approximately 652 miles (1,049 km) long and is located in the southeastern United States in the Tennessee Valley. The river was once popularly known as the Cherokee River, among other names, as many of the Cherokee had their territory along its banks, especially in eastern Tennessee and northern Alabama. Its current name is derived from the Cherokee village Tanasi.

Meigs County, Tennessee County in the United States

Meigs County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2010 census, the population was 11,753. Its county seat is Decatur.

Rhea County, Tennessee County in the United States

Rhea County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2010 census, the population was 31,809. Its county seat is Dayton.

Contents

Watts Bar Dam is named for Watt Island, a sandbar located at the dam site prior to the dam's construction. [3]

Location

Watts Bar Dam is located approximately 530 miles (850 km) upstream from the mouth of the Tennessee River, roughly halfway between Knoxville and Chattanooga. Just north of the dam, the Tennessee absorbs the Piney River, which flows down from the Cumberland Plateau to the west. The nearest towns of note are Spring City (a few miles to the northwest) and Decatur (a few miles to the south). Tennessee State Route 68 crosses Watts Bar Dam, connecting the area with Interstate 75 to the east and U.S. Route 27 to the west.

Knoxville, Tennessee City in Tennessee, United States

Knoxville is a city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Knox County. The city had an estimated population of 186,239 in 2016 and a population of 178,874 as of the 2010 census, making it the state's third largest city after Nashville and Memphis. Knoxville is the principal city of the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area, which, in 2016, was 868,546, up 0.9 percent, or 7,377 people, from to 2015. The KMSA is, in turn, the central component of the Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette Combined Statistical Area, which, in 2013, had a population of 1,096,961.

Piney River (East Tennessee)

The Piney River is a stream that drains a portion of Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau generally known as Walden Ridge. The Piney River rises near the Rhea County – Bledsoe County line and is referred to as Piney Creek in its upper reaches roughly until its confluence with Duskin Creek. Its major tributary, Little Piney Creek, flows over two spectacular waterfalls which are located in Piney Falls State Natural Area near the community of Grandview. A tributary of Little Piney Creek is Soak Creek, Tennessee's newest State Scenic River. The confluence of the two streams occurs below the falls of the smaller stream in an area referred to as "Shut-in Gap". The stream flows out of the gap and is bridged by State Route 68 just before that road begins its steep climb up the Cumberland Escarpment onto Waldens Ridge. The stream flows north of Spring City, Tennessee and becomes slack just east of the town at a headland of Watts Bar Lake, an impoundment of the Tennessee River formed by the Tennessee Valley Authority's Watts Bar Dam project. The mouth of the Piney is one of the larger bays of Watts Bar Lake and contains several small islands.

Cumberland Plateau

The Cumberland Plateau is the southern part of the Appalachian Plateau in the Appalachian Mountains of the United States. It includes much of eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, and portions of northern Alabama and northwest Georgia. The terms "Allegheny Plateau" and the "Cumberland Plateau" both refer to the dissected plateau lands lying west of the main Appalachian Mountains. The terms stem from historical usage rather than geological difference, so there is no strict dividing line between the two. Two major rivers share the names of the plateaus, with the Allegheny River rising in the Allegheny Plateau and the Cumberland River rising in the Cumberland Plateau in Harlan County, Kentucky.

Capacity

Watts Bar Lake extends 72.4 miles (116.5 km) northeast from the dam to Fort Loudoun Dam, and includes parts of Meigs, Rhea, Roane, and Loudon counties. In addition to its main Tennessee River channel, Watts Bar Lake is navigable across the lower 23 miles (37 km) of the Clinch River (up to Melton Hill Dam) and the lower 12 miles (19 km) of the Emory River. [4] The cities of Kingston, Spring City, Harriman, Loudon, Rockwood, and Lenoir City all have waterfronts on Watts Bar Lake.

Watts Bar Lake

Watts Bar Lake is a reservoir on the Tennessee river created by Watts Bar Dam as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority system.

Fort Loudoun Dam

Fort Loudoun Dam is a hydroelectric dam on the Tennessee River in Loudon County, Tennessee, in the southeastern United States. The dam is operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which built the dam in the early 1940s as part of a unified plan to provide electricity and flood control in the Tennessee Valley and create a continuous 652-mile (1,049 km) navigable river channel from Knoxville, Tennessee to Paducah, Kentucky. It is the uppermost of nine TVA dams on the Tennessee River.

Roane County, Tennessee County in the United States

Roane County is a county of the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2010 census, the population was 54,181. Its county seat is Kingston.

Watts Bar provides 722 miles (1,162 km) of shoreline and over 39,090 acres (15,820 ha) of water surface. Watts Bar Dam is 112 feet (34 m) high and stretches 2,960 feet (900 m) across the Tennessee River. Watts Bar has a storage capacity of 1,175,000 acre⋅ft (1,449,000 dam3), [1] a flood-storage capacity of 379,000 acre⋅ft (467,000 dam3), and generates 175 megawatts of electricity. The dam's navigational lock is 360 by 60 feet (110 m × 18 m), and raises and lowers vessels 70 feet (21 m) from Watts Bar Lake to Chickamauga Lake and vice versa. [4]

Hydroelectricity electricity generated by hydropower

Hydroelectricity is electricity produced from hydropower. In 2015, hydropower generated 16.6% of the world's total electricity and 70% of all renewable electricity, and was expected to increase about 3.1% each year for the next 25 years.

Background and construction

TVA's design plan for Watts Bar Dam, circa 1939 Watts-bar-dam-design-tva1.jpg
TVA's design plan for Watts Bar Dam, circa 1939

Watt Island's potential as a dam site had been recognized since the early 1870s, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a dike at the tip of the island to improve flow in the main river channel. The Corps carried out dredging work at the island between 1911 and 1913 that deepened the main channel, and recommended the site (originally known as the "White Creek site" after a stream that joins the Tennessee a few miles upriver) for a dam in 1930. In 1936, the Tennessee Valley Authority assumed direction of the site as part of its unified strategy to build (and acquire) a series of dams along the Tennessee River to improve navigation and flood control, and aide in the region's economic development. TVA was given authorization to build a dam at Watt Island on March 16, 1939, and construction on Watts Bar Dam began on July 1, 1939. [3]

Workers test a turbine shaft at Watts Bar, June 1942 Checking the alignment of a turbine shaft at the top of the guide bearing in TVA's hydroelectric plant, Watts Bar Dam, Tenn.jpg
Workers test a turbine shaft at Watts Bar, June 1942

The construction of Watts Bar Dam and its accompanying reservoir required the purchase of 54,600 acres (22,100 ha) of land and flowage rights, 7,304 acres (2,956 ha) of which were forested and had to be cleared. 832 families, 17 cemeteries, and 121 miles (195 km) of roads were relocated. An earthen dike was built to protect downtown Kingston from the reservoir's backwaters, and minor adjustments were necessary to the riverfronts of Spring City, Harriman, Wheat, and Loudon. The community of Rhea Springs, located along the Piney River a few miles upstream from the river's mouth, was completely inundated. [3]

Earl M. Qualls, car dumper operator at Watts Bar, in June 1942. This image was distributed by the Office of War information to demonstrate the importance of the dam's electricity as well as the contribution of African-Americans to the war effort. Earl M. Qualls, car dumper operator at Watts Bar, June 1942.jpg
Earl M. Qualls, car dumper operator at Watts Bar, in June 1942. This image was distributed by the Office of War information to demonstrate the importance of the dam's electricity as well as the contribution of African-Americans to the war effort.

The dam's original design called for the installation of three generators, but with the outbreak of World War II in 1941, energy demand in the region skyrocketed, and the design was modified to include a fourth and fifth generator. The dam was completed and the gates closed on January 1, 1942. The first generator went online February 11 of that year, followed by the second generator on April 6 and the third on July 23. The fourth generator went online March 12, 1944 and the fifth followed on April 24, 1944. The Army Corps of Engineers designed the dam's lock, which went into operation on February 16, 1942. [3]

Watts Bar Lake was one of the water bodies affected by a massive release of fly ash in 2008 from the Kingston Fossil Plant coal fly ash slurry spill.

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 3 "Watts Bar Dam". National Performance of Dams Program, National Inventory of Dams. Stanford University. Retrieved 2012-10-10.
  2. "Hydroelectric Plants in Tennessee". IndustCards. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Tennessee Valley Authority, The Watts Bar Project: A Comprehensive Report on the Planning, Design, Construction, and Initial Operations of the Watts Bar Project, Technical Report No. 9 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1949), 1-11, 39-47.
  4. 1 2 Tennessee Valley Authority, Watts Bar Reservoir. Retrieved: 10 January 2009.