The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District has begun to release water from its storage projects, resulting in larger flows and in some cases higher water levels in the Cumberland River, the USACE announced Thursday.
The changes will be most noticeable in the Nashville/Davidson County segment of the Cumberland.
Corps water managers are closely monitoring conditions along the Cumberland River to coordinate the releases from the upstream projects with runoff entering the river from tributary streams within the uncontrolled portion of the basin. The basin includes the watersheds associated with the Cordell Hull, Old Hickory, and Cheatham projects.
The Cumberland River Basin has experienced a series of heavy rainfall events since late February. The USACE elected to store water from these storms in reservoirs to lower river levels and to alleviate flooding on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, which are experiencing record flooding.
Approximately 3.23 million acre-feet of water has been captured in the Cumberland Basin flood storage projects, resulting in significant increases to their lake levels. For example, the lake level at Wolf Creek Dam has gone up about 45 feet since late February. Dale Hollow Lake has seen a rise of approximately 16 feet during the same period. Similarly, Center Hill has risen by approximately 31 feet, and J. Percy Priest has seen a rise of nearly 18 feet.
Of note, 3.23 million acre-feet of water is roughly equivalent to one trillion gallons of water and, if hypothetically stacked on a football field, would be about 593 miles high.
The USACE has started the process of recovering flood storage capacity in lakes impacted by the recent series of heavy rain. This course of action will require the continuous release of water for an extended period of time, the corps said. The projects involved include Wolf Creek Dam (Lake Cumberland), Dale Hollow Dam, Center Hill Dam and J. Percy Priest Dam.