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Tennessee Valley Authority

Introduction

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), independent U.S. government corporate agency, created in 1933 by act of Congress; it is responsible for the integrated development of the Tennessee River basin. The history of TVA began in the early 1920s, when Senator George William Norris sponsored a plan to have the government take over and operate Wilson Dam and other installations that had been built by the government for national defense purposes during World War I at Muscle Shoals, Alabama. However, legislation to this effect was vetoed in 1928 and in 1931 by Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. The 1933 TVA Act, redrafted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, went far beyond the earlier proposals and launched the federal government into a vast scheme of regional planning and development—an undertaking that became the model for similar river projects.

The establishment of the TVA marked the first time that an agency was directed to address the total resource development needs of a major region. TVA was instructed to take on the problems presented by devastating floods, badly eroded lands, a deficient economy, and a steady outmigration—all in one unified development effort. The act provided for the integrated development of the whole Tennessee River basin, an area of about 41,000 sq mi (106,200 sq km) that covers parts of seven states. The TVA is governed by a three-person board of directors. The fact that its main offices are located in the region, rather than in Washington, D.C., allows the TVA to maintain a close working relationship with the people of the region.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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