LOUDON, Tenn. (WATE) – The Tennessee Valley Authority has approved a plan aimed at preventing the invasive carp from migrating further along the Tennessee River. It includes placing barriers at seven dams, including bio-acoustic fish fences and carbon dioxide emitters, to help prevent the fish from entering a dam’s lock chamber.
The first two are set to go up at Kentucky and Wilson dam. A TVA spokesperson said Friday those are areas with a known presence of the fish and explained this basically fences them in.
Pandora Vreeland her husband moved to Tellico Village about 15 years ago for the freshwater lake. Its her version of paradise, but she fears the carp puts its in jeopardy. “When you have something that weights between 20-40 pounds hitting you while you’re under speed in your boat you will be injured,” she said.
If the species makes it to East Tennessee, she said it would not only impact her community, but also the local economy. While Vreeland is excited to learn barriers have been approved, she disagrees with the order in which they’re being built.
Here’s why: An angler reported a carp jumping into their boat at Chickamauga Lake in October 2019. Vreeland thinks the fish could be much closer to our region than people realize, which is why she wants Watts Bar to be one of the first locations to get a barrier — to prevent them from coming to her backyard.
The TVA spokesperson wrote Friday: “It’s important to note that detailed studies conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alabama Division of Natural Resources have found no evidence of populations of Asian Carp beyond Pickwick Reservoir.
Vreeland said that doesn’t mean they’re not there. “When you’re dealing with a massive, massive, body of water like Chickamauga Lake,” she said, “they could be there in small numbers and you would never be able to catch them…by putting a barrier in Kentucky, if they multiplied beyond that barrier, you’ve negated the impact of that barrier.”
That spokesperson also noted the location of the first two barriers was made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. TVA is not the lead agency with the project.
The timeline for the other five barrier locations will depend on funding from Congress.