DUCKTOWN, TENNESSEE - This weekend's national slalom championship could be the last on the $26 million Ocoee Whitewater Center Olympic venue. <br>
A spokesman for the Tennessee Valley Authority says a five-year agreement for the power company to provide free water for competitions has expired. <br>
Outside of the agreement for free water, the agency charges $6,000-$12,000 a day to fill the Ocoee River with water. Rafting outfitters and area leaders say low commercial rafting ridership this year has already imperiled the industry. <br>
Supporters say making up the shortfall by raising rafting fees could kill commercial rafting on the upper river and deal a $15 million blow to the region's economy. <br>
The slalom course was built for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. <br>
TVA water specialist Robin Kirsch has told outfitters and local leaders that the utility is aware of the economic impact on the region. But she says it also owes ratepayers the lowest costs possible. <br>
The agency charges river users to make up for lost power generation.
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