Hot Water in the Hiwassee

Concerns over trout due to unexpected warm water release

Thursday, August 21, 2008 - by Richard Simms

Area trout anglers and government biologists are watching the Hiwassee River like hawks.

Most of this week TVA has been spilling extremely warm water over the top of Apalachia Dam on the Hiwassee River, potentially endangering the trout fishery. A TVA spokesman says the breakdown of one of two generators forced them to spill water over the top of the dam. He says however that the generator was repaired Wednesday afternoon and operation is back to normal.

Dan Hicks, spokesman for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, said, "We're monitoring it really closely. We've been trying to make (the Hiwassee) a trophy trout fishing situation... one our supervisors is really concerned about what the warm water temperatures and low oxygen could do to the fish."

Jim Herrig, a biologist with the U.S. Forest Service was on the Hiwasee Wednesday. He says he measured 80 degree water temperatures immediately below the Apalachia Dam.

"Water temperatures 80 degrees and above can be acutely toxic to trout," he said.

Twelve miles downstream however at the Apalachia Powerhouse, Herrig said temperatures had fallen significantly.

"I measured the water temperature just upstream from the generator outflow of 74 degrees," he said. "Downstream from the outflow, after the warmer and cooler water mixed, it was 70 degrees."

That water temperature is at the upper end of what trout can tolerate without become extremely stressed.

But again, according to a TVA spokesperson, the situation is back to normal as of Thursday.

Hicks says TWRA personnel will continue to monitor the situation closely.

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