Since hosting the whitewater canoe and kayak slalom events of the 1996 Olympic competition Ocoee rafting became more popular. while, building site for the Olympic course in a typically dry and mild riverbed of the Upper Ocoee River is interesting. Construction narrowed the river width by two-thirds to intensify the rapids without using more of TVA’s water. Natural limestone boulders were added and cemented into place. This creating new the drops and eddies for the whitewater slalom course. Limestone helps mitigate them harm of exposing and weathering the pyrite naturally occuring in the Copper Basin and riverbed. Amazingly, the Ocoee venue is the only natural river course to ever featured in Olympic slalom competition. Water flow through the Upper Ocoee is controlled by TVA’s Ocoee Dam # 3. Thus, this dam two miles upstream from the course plays a major role.
The whitewater slalom course of the 1996 Olympics improves the experience of boating the Upper Ocoee dramatically. While the Middle Ocoee still has more rapids and non-stop action, the Upper Ocoee has bigger class 4 action. The Olympic channel adds a quarter mile of thrilling class 4 action to the run. Because Olympic course creates a more exciting level of rapids than present on the middle section.
The hydroelectric power plant for Dam # 3 is a few miles downstream from the Olympic Course. And water passes from the dam to the power plant through a tunnel carved in the mountain. Thus bypassing the riverbed of upper section of the Ocoee River. Consequently, water that runs through the Olympic course must releases directly into the river at Ocoee Dam #3. TVA can further control water flow during high water events using the tunnel to divert excess water. TVA demands compensation for the water lost for power generation. Rafting companies to this day pay for the water. This reimbursement cost is one of the reasons water is the upper releases only 34 days each year.