Congressman Collins Advocates for More Water in Lake Blue Ridge

September 17, 2015


Congressman Collins Advocates for More Water in Lake Blue Ridge

WASHINGTON—Today, Congressman Doug Collins (R-Ga.) sent a letter to the President of the Tennessee Valley Authority on the yearly draw down of the water in Lake Blue Ridge, located in Fannin County. Current TVA Operating Guidelines call for the lake to be below full volume for much of the year, including during part of the summer, which drastically shortens the season for boating and other recreational activities. Congressman Collins issued the following statement after sending the letter:

“Increasing the water levels in the lake for the entire summer will draw more tourism to Fannin County, which would pave the way for economic growth and prosperity in an area where unemployment is over 10 percent. Extending the period of time for the lake to be at its fullest and most beautiful will not affect the other lakes in the TVA network, and will provide more opportunity for business and revenue in this rural county. I urge the TVA to implement the recommendations of the Lake Blue Ridge Civic Association, who have presented them with a workable, common sense, solution that will have numerous benefits in their community.”

Below is the full text of the letter:

September 17, 2015

Mr. Bill Johnson

President and Chief Executive Officer

Tennessee Valley Authority

400 West Summit Hill Drive

Knoxville, TN 37902


Dear Mr. Johnson,

I am writing on behalf of my constituents in Northeast Georgia who live and work in the communities surrounding Lake Blue Ridge.  As you know, Lake Blue Ridge (also known as the Blue Ridge Reservoir) is located in Fannin County, Georgia, below the Tennessee and North Carolina borders. The reservoir is owned and operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and is the first in line of 49 interlocking lakes and tributaries that flow northwest to the Ohio River. When full, Lake Blue Ridge is beautiful and has the potential to be an incredible asset to the economic vitality of Fannin County and the surrounding areas.

Unfortunately, Lake Blue Ridge has been full only 7 percent of the time over the last 10 years. When water levels are down, the lake ceases to be an asset to the county. Docks are unusable, boating is not feasible, and tourism or economic benefits derived from the lake dry up.

The Operating Guide for the Blue Ridge Reservoir calls for the lake to be at full pool level (1686’ to 1688’ above sea level) by the beginning of June annually, and the winter drawdown begins toward the end of July. According to the Lake Blue Ridge Civic Association, the drawdown has even begun as early as July 4th. In practice, the guidelines in the TVA’s Operating Guide for the reservoir mean that the lake is largely inconvenient or even inaccessible for recreation by early August and into the following April.

Given the climate in this part of the state, this simply does not make sense. The weather is often temperate enough for boating and other recreational activities well into October, but the lake levels effectively end the season more than a month before it would naturally conclude.

Fannin County is home to about 25,000 residents and has approximately 16,000 homes. Of those homes, one quarter are second homes. A longer lake season would mean more time for residents and visitors alike to use to lake but also to contribute to the economy surrounding the lake. Unemployment in Fannin County stands at 10.7 percent, but with a longer lake season and the resulting increase in revenue, the potential exists to lower that rate. In this current economic climate, it is imperative that we explore every possibility for job creation. In fact, according to the Lake Blue Ridge Civic Association, a longer lake season could result in up to $16 million in additional revenue in the county that could in turn translate into more jobs and opportunities in a rural area that sorely needs it.

The Lake Blue Ridge Civic Association has proposed that the Operating Guide be modified so that the lake achieves a full pool as of April 1st and that the full pool level is extended through the end of October. They also recommend that the winter drawdown level does not exceed 15 feet, rather than the current drawdown level of 22 feet.

Based on research by the Association, these changes would have little effect on power contribution and flow rate in the fall, and other sources in the TVA system could easily compensate for the water retained longer in Lake Blue Ridge. The benefits achieved from the implementation of new water level standards could be very beneficial to Fannin County at very little cost to the overall TVA system.

Based on the points above, I strongly urge you to consider finding a more workable solution for the water levels at Lake Blue Ridge to better serve the county and the TVA, and I encourage your consideration and implementation of the recommendations made by the Lake Blue Ridge Civic Association.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I appreciate your understanding of the vitally important nature of this issue to my constituents in Fannin County. I’m confident that we can partner together to both further the goals of TVA and ensure the thriving Lake Blue Ridge community is able to be enjoyed by generations to come.


Doug Collins

Member of Congress


Cc: TVA Board of Directors

                Board Services

                400 West Summit Hill Drive WT 6

                Knoxville, TX 37914

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