TVA reminds boaters to use extra caution near dams after fatal boating accident

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LOUDON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — After a fatal boating accident at the Fort Loudoun Dam Sunday morning, the TVA is warning boaters to use extra caution while out on the water this weekend.

During a holiday weekend is when the TWRA says they see the most boating traffic, as well as accidents. Most of the accidents, they say, are preventable. TVA spokesperson Jim Hopson says boaters should be even more alert when boating or fishing near dams.

“Whenever a dam is spilling, a large quantity of water is coming over the dam and intersecting with the tail water which is the area directly underneath the dam and that creates various suctions and various vortices that can sometimes make it extraordinarily difficult for boaters to control their craft.” Hopson said.

Hopson says the dams are dangerous because of the amount of water that is spilled per second and how fast the waters can change at any point in time. Sunday, the Fort Loudoun dam was spilling 250,000 gallons of water per second.

“Any time you’re operating near one of TVA’s dams or really any dam either up stream or down stream from the dam as you approach the structure, you need to be aware that water can be moving very very rapidly. If you get yourself tangled up with a quarter of a million gallons of water per second coming at you, it will strip you naked including all of your flotation gear, it will just strip it right off your body. ” Hopson said.

TVA also says that boaters should watch their surroundings closely, especially when there is high boating traffic.

“It just takes being aware of what the dangers are whether you’re boating or swimming and then making sure you’re taking the necessary actions to prevent those risks so that you or your family are not faced with the kind of tragedies that unfortunately happen when we see people on the water.” Hopson said.

TVA also says that while there are many boaters you should keep speeds low and don’t drink while operating a boat.

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