LENOIR CITY (WATE) - The heavy rains that saturated East Tennessee this week have had officials with the Tennessee Valley Authority scrambling to take action.
TVA began spilling water through the Fort Loudoun Dam in Lenoir City on Tuesday, opening the floodgates to more than 344 thousand gallons of water per second.
"We do that so we can control how much water is going down the river," said Chuck Bach, the general manager of river operations for TVA. "We are very concerned about our dam safety and by controlling how much water river goes down the river system, we can ensure the safety of our dams."
With about four inches of rainfall in TVA's eastern region, extra rainfall that made its way into the Tennessee River system is being held in reservoirs upstream to maximize water storage.
"We're trying to take advantage of all the storage in all the system to be able to minimize the impacts from this large rain event," Bach said.
The increase of rain into the system also helps to increase the amount of hydroelectric power, which can make up 10 percent of TVA's total energy load.
"We're trying to take advantage of all this water and run it through our turbines first so we get maximum hydrogeneration," Bach said.
Whether or not the increased use of hydroelectric helps with lower costs of a monthly utility bill, TVA says it's too early to say, but it won't hurt.
"It's to the average customer's benefit for us to maximize our hydrogeneration, because it's the least expensive form of generation that TVA has," he said.
Even though the rain will persist through the next few days, TVA doesn't expect any flooding in the eastern part of the Tennessee Valley.
Bach says reservoirs like Cherokee, Norris, Douglas and Fontana Lakes might see higher water levels since the water is being held back to minimize the impacts downstream.
TVA says those levels will be lowered once the water moves downstream.