TVA opens floodgates after record rains

TVA opens floodgates after record rains

September 6th, 2011 by Dave Flessner in Local - Breaking News

Water pours out of all 11 spillways at Chickamauga dam in this file photo.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

The Tennessee Valley Authority will begin spilling water through its Chickamauga Dam in Chattanooga today, bringing to six the number of dams the agency is opening the floodgates on this week to help draw down rain-swollen creeks and rivers upstream in the Tennessee River basin.

Chuck Bach, general manager of river scheduling for TVA, said today he doesn't anticipate any flooding problems on the main Tennessee River and TVA is trying to limit flooding in low-lying farm areas below the Pickwick Dam near Savannah, Tenn. which often flood during heavy rains.

"Our lake levels are probably going to be on the upper end of our desired summertime range, but the tributaries hardly saw any rise in lake levels at all," Bach said. "That's indicative of how dry it has been and how much the ground soaked up the water."

The Tennessee Valley averaged four inches of rain on Monday, but TVA rain gauges near Charleston, Tenn., recorded 12.7 inches of rain -- the highest in the region.

"The rainfall in Chattanooga (which has now topped 10 inches) is equivalent to a 100-year event, meaning that on average there is a one in a 100 chance you will get that much rain in a 24-hour period," Bach said.

TVA is spilling water through its Chickamauga, Nickajack, Guntersville, Wheeler, Wilson and Pickwick dams to help handle the heavy rains spawned by Tropical Storm Lee, TVA spokesman Travis Brickey said.

Bach said there is no significant rainfall in the forecast this week to add to any of the current flooding problems.

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