River flow suspends barge traffic as TVA boosts spill through main dams

River flow suspends barge traffic as TVA boosts spill through main dams

January 27th, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Local - Breaking News

A barge passes Ross's Landing on the Tennessee River on Tuesday.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

River barge traffic on the Tennessee River is being halted this weekend as TVA draws down its rain-swollen reservoirs.

The Tennessee Valley Authority plans to boost the amount of water spilling and flowing through the Chickamauga Dam today from about 35,000 cubic feet per second to 95,000 cubic feet per second. The higher flow rate, which TVA spokesman Travis Brickey said should begin this afternoon, will increase the amount of water flowing over the Chickamauga Dam in Hixson to the equivalent of more than 42 million gallons of water per minute.

"We're spilling on all nine of our mainstream dams today in response to all of the rain w have had this week," Brickey said.

The higher spill rate is expected to raise the water level of the Tennessee River as it flows through downtown Chattanooga by up to 1.5 feet, Brickey said.

According to U.S. Corps of Engineers regulations, barge traffic on the river is halted when the river flow reached 90,000 feet per second or more in the Tennessee River gorge just west of downtown Chattanooga.

Brickey said TVA expects to continue the elevated spill rate at most of its dams until the first of next week.

In the past 36 hours, Chattanooga received from 1.5 to 2 inches of rain in the area, Brickey said.