TVA has opened one of the spillways at its Douglas Dam and resorted to an old-fashion method of keeping adequate oxygen levels in the river after lightning ruptured part of the utility's water oxygenation system.
TVA spokesman Travis Brickey said a lightening strike Wednesday night hit the pipe that carries oxygen into the Douglas Reservoir and has forced TVA to shut down and rebuild the line.
Construction crews working at the dam Wednesday saw the fire that resulted from the lightning strike, which broke through the PVC covering and inch-thick copper pipe that carries oxygen into the reservoir from a pair of oxygen tanks about a quarter mile away. The workers called the Northview Fire Department, which evacuated nearby residents and workers to avoid the potential of the fire racing to the tanks where liquid oxygen is stored.
TVA uses the oxygenation system during summer months to help keep the river water from becoming too hot and stagnant for aquatic life. The program is used at nine TVA dams and is part of more than $60 million TVA has spent since it adopted its Lake Improvement Plan in 1992 to improve water quality in the Tennessee Valley.
With the oxygenation line cut off, TVA is spilling water at Douglas Dam through one of its spillways like a waterfall to add more oxygen into the river.