Photographer Jeff Rich is recording American watersheds for his WPA style project, The Watershed Project. He sends photos from the Tennessee River for AG Week Field Assignment #8: Waterways:

The French Broad is one of two major tributaries to the Tennessee River. Continuing down the system of watersheds that make up the southeastern quarter of the Mississippi River Basin, this portion of the Watershed project examines the Tennessee River Basin. A system of rivers that is for the most part controlled and ultimately harnessed by the Tennessee Valley Authority. A government organization started in 1933 that provides flood control, navigation on the rivers, economic development, and finally electric power production. The TVA operates nearly 50 dams in the Tennessee Watershed, as well as 18 power plants, and 3 nuclear plants.

The original Tennessee guidebook writes of The Tennessee Valley Authority: 

The Tennessee Valley Authority was created by Congress in 1933 to develop the Tennessee River system in the interest of navigation, flood control, and national defense, and to generate and sell surplus electricity to avert waste of water power. … In its program for flood and navigation control, for land reclamation, and for cheap electric light and power the TVA is substituting order and design for haphazard, unplanned, and unintegrated development. Through its social and educational activities it is bringing to this region a consciousness of its own rich natural and human resources. … For this, as well as its more tangible objectives, the TVA is of national importance.

Tennessee, A Guide To the State (WPA, 1939)

Guide Note:See more of The Watershed Project here.

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Jeff Rich is a photographer based in Iowa City. His work focuses on water issues ranging from recreation and sustainability to exploitation and abuse. Jeff currently teaches photography at The University of Iowa. He also produces “Eyes on the South" for The Oxford American.

Follow him on his website at and on Twitter at @jeffreymrich.