Corps continues to release water from rain-swollen lakes

Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 4:12am
Staff reports

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is carefully balancing the safety of rain-swollen lake with the need for flood protection downstream.

With safety in mind, the Corps is ramping up efforts to bring water levels down behind its dams along the Cumberland River and its tributaries.

On Tuesday, the agency said several lakes had reached record levels with water behind the dam creating Old Hickory Lake coming within inches of flowing over the dam.

The following updated information is currently available regarding operations at Corps dams along the Cumberland River and its tributaries.

Wolf Creek Dam on the Cumberland River, Jamestown, Ky.

- Lake Cumberland elevation at 9 a.m. Wednesday was 702.8 feet. The lake is forecast to peak at 704.2 feet on Friday night.
- Three hydropower units are in operation and the plan was to bring two additional units on Wednesday afternoon.
- Water will be released through the sluice gates today. Both hydropower units and sluice gates will be used to bring the lake back to elevation 680 in a timely manner.

Dale Hollow Dam on the Obey River, Celina

- Dale Hollow Lake elevation at 2 p.m. Wednesday was 657.32 feet. As of noon Wednesday, both hydropower units were on. The lake was forecast to peak at 657.4 feet at midnight.
- Spillway gates will be opened to bring the lake level down when it is certain it will not harm downstream areas.

Cordell Hull Dam on the Cumberland River, Carthage

- Cordell Hull Lake crested at elevation of 508.33 feet. The current lake level is 503.3 feet, which is back within the normal operating level.

Center Hill Dam on the Caney Fork River, Lancaster

- Center Hill Lake elevation at 1 p.m. Wednesday was 646.7 feet. The lake was forecast to peak at 648.4 feet at midnight.
- A second hydropower unit was brought on at noon Wednesday. The third unit was brought on at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
- Sluice gates will be opened Thursday to further hasten the fall of the lake level.

Old Hickory Dam on the Cumberland River, Hendersonville

- Old Hickory Lake elevation at noon Wednesday was 448.5 feet. Releases through spillway gates have been reduced and hydropower generation has begun.
- The lake is forecast to return within normal operating levels today.

J. Percy Priest Dam on the Stones River, Nashville

- J. Percy Priest elevation at noon Wednesday was 504.58 feet and appears to have crested. The current combination of releases through spillway gates and hydropower generation is being used to lower the lake level.

- The spillway releases will be increased when it is determined that doing so will not adversely affect downstream areas.

Cheatham Dam on the Cumberland River, Ashland City

- Cheatham Dam is in free flow with water flowing over the top of the dam’s spillway. The dam was designed to operate in this manner in high water situations.

- Cheatham Lake reached a record level of 404.15, and the lock and resource manager’s facilities have flooded in the process.

- Cheatham will remain in free flow until river flows reach a point that the gates can be placed back in the water and water control capabilities are regained. This will be followed some time later by placing the hydropower units back in service.

- Cheatham Lake elevation at noon Wednesday was 401.1 feet. The lake is forecast to return within normal operation levels by Sunday.


Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River in Grand Rivers, Ky.

- The Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Water Management Office has an ongoing flood control operation for the Ohio River. This means they are in control of operations at both Barkley Dam and Kentucky Dam.

- Reductions in releases have been implemented at Barkley. The flow of 228,000 cubic feet per second will be maintained throughout Wednesday, then cuts will be made to prevent flooding on the Ohio River.

- Lake Barkley elevation at noon Wednesday was 366.7 feet. A new forecast for the lake elevations will be available soon.

2 Comments on this post:

By: WickedTribe on 5/6/10 at 5:45

I don't know but it looks like they're trying to use methods to speed up evaporation also. Yesterday when I was driving over the Percy Priest dam, I saw some machine going at Stones River. It was spraying water from a tube in a fine stream almost straight up high into the air. I couldn't figure out the point at first, but then I guessed they were hoping that it would cause the water to evaporate.

By: volstitans on 5/6/10 at 8:07

One of the local channels (I think Channel 2) spoke to a member of the Corps of Engineers on Saturday. The question concerned the speed of spillage at the dams downstream; I assume Cheatham & Barkley dams. I was expecting an answer concerning the balancing act the Corps must perform with all the river & lake levels.
But I was shocked at the answer and have heard nothing since. At the time there was still ample room for much more water downstream. But he stated that the Corps must do this very slowly because of the "eco situation" with the fish. He went on to say that the water temperatures could be much different and adversely affect the fish.

Is this a federal environmental law or just the judgment of the Corps of Engineers? The most avid fisherman would gladly sacrifice barge loads of fish for the safety of residents and the tremendous economic impact of the area. I have contacted a few of our state congressional people and insist there should be an investigation.