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TVA increases releases out of lakes ahead of Florence

Hank Hayes • Sep 12, 2018 at 7:30 PM

TVA says it will increase water releases at its upstream dams in Northeast Tennessee to get ready for anticipated massive rainfall from Hurricane Florence.

“Right now up in that area, the big picture for us is it’s still pretty uncertain about where we’re going to get the heaviest rainfall,” said James Everett, TVA’s manager of its River Forecast Center in Knoxville.

“The things that we are doing right now ahead of Florence is we are going to increase releases out of Watauga (Lake) and South Holston (Lake) that flows down into Boone … We’ve increased releases for the upstream dams to build us a little extra storage room to get ready for rainfall that looks like it will come in about Sunday … The main goal is to get as much water out of South Holston and Watauga as we can and then when the rainfall actually occurs, we will more than likely be able to cut those releases back to alleviate downstream flooding … We want to protect Kingsport. Our goal is to build as much flood storage as we can in South Holston and Watauga.”

A five-to-seven year Boone Dam repair project began in 2016.

“We will be able to pass any water that flows into Boone using the two operating turbines,” TVA spokesman Travis Brickey said in an email.

Everett noted lake levels this time of year are a little higher than normal, and that’s been driven by wetter than normal conditions this summer.

“We’re about eight inches to the positive in terms of rainfall in the eastern Tennessee valley,” he said. “That has caused us to be higher than normal in lake levels. That’s why we’re taking a little more sense of urgency with these releases before the rainfall … We’re at the beginning of our normal drawdown period … a lot of things will change between now and next week … we will be adjusting that strategy each day until it starts raining.”

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