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TVA moving water in attempt to reduce potential for flooding

Wes Bunch • Jul 10, 2013 at 10:03 PM

KNOXVILLE — The Tennessee Valley Authority announced Wednesday that it is working to move large volumes of water along the Tennessee River system to help reduce the potential for flood damage from record rainfall.

TVA said it is moving as much as 1 million gallons per second in some places to help mitigate possible flooding.

TVA officials said the agency began it preparations during the last week of June to deal with record rainfalls by lowering reservoir levels on the main channel of the Tennessee River. As a result, lake levels in some areas are below normal for the time of year.

Despite that fact, TVA is now being forced to spill or release excess water from 10 of 20 tributary dams and all nine main channel dams along the 652-mile Tennessee River due to the extreme amount of rainfall and runoff that struck the middle and eastern portions of the Tennessee Valley over the past week.

Approximately 40 inches of rain have fallen in the Tennessee valley since the beginning of the year, only 11 inches below the yearly average.

“TVA’s management of the river system is working,” said Chuck Bach, general manager of TVA River Operations.

“TVA will spill only when all available hydroelectric-generating turbines are operating at full capacity and additional water still needs to be moved.”

Spilling along the dams is expected to last one to two more weeks.

The higher water levels are also being felt along recreation areas, including in Northeast Tennessee.

TVA said Watauga Lake, as well as Douglas Lake in Jefferson County, were among the most impacted of TVA’s reservoirs.

Watauga reportedly set a record lake elevation Monday at 1,967 feet above sea level, which is a foot higher than its previous record set last May.

According to TVA, flooding has been reported in various areas along the Tennessee River, including Chattanooga; Whitesburg and Florence, Ala.; and Savannah, Tenn.

TVA said the already soaked region could be further impacted by an additional 1-2 inches of rain expected to fall later in the week.

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