The Tennessee Valley Authority has been working for days to make room for the rain in its rivers and reservoirs.
The utility has been working inside Norris Dam closing low-level outlets to reduce the amount of water being released. TVA says the idea is to store water they get from the rain in an effort to prevent flooding downstream.
It’s a 24-hour operation that looks at weather patterns, water levels, soil and streams. Thousands depend on the TVA River Forecast Center. Manager James Everett says flooding is on top of mind for everyone.
“We’re shifting our operations and strategy every few hours as the weather forecasts shift. We get a lot of our information in terms of rainfall predictions from the National Weather Service. As those rainfall predictions change, we’re also changing our strategy as the weather changes,” said Everett.
Their strategy includes a plan to divert water away from the Fort Loudoun Dam to keep it from flooding. TVA has released water in areas like Fort Loudoun, Chickamauga and Watts Bar to increase some of their limited capacity for the rain that’s coming.
There is some advantage to all the rain because water is the fuel that runs hydroelectric turbines and hydropower is a cheaper energy source for TVA.
“Over the next week or so, when we get some of this heavy rainfall, our focus certainly shifts to flood control and flood protection. Hydropower is definitely a benefit to having some of this extra water, but one of our main focuses will certainly be flood control,” said Everett.
If you live near the Norris, Douglas or Cherokee reservoirs, the water may look low now, but expect the lake levels to rise as rain continues to hit East Tennessee. For those living below the dams, there is still potential for unregulated river flooding with all the rain heading in.
Once the rain is over, TVA will release the water stored in the dams at a controlled rate.
You can see in real time how much water is rising at TVA’s dams, how much water they’re releasing and more on their website.