VA prepares for potential flooding

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

   Tennessee Valley Authority reservoir operations employees were keeping close watch Tuesday on the Tropical Storm Bill and anticipated heavy rainfall associated with the storm front.
   While TVA did not expect the Tennessee River to exceed flood stage Tuesday afternoon, agency officials said there was potential for flooding, depending on the amount of rainfall and where it was located.
   According to TVA, at least 2 inches of rain was predicted throughout most of the Tennessee River system, with 5 to 7 inches forecasted for some locations. Rainfall was expected to be heaviest in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina.
   TVA has been spilling water on the main river at Fort Loudon, Watts Bar, Chickamauga, Nickajack and Guntersville dams and will continue to do so throughout the week.
   Because TVA's reservoirs are at their peak summer pools, there is a shortage of storage space for the additional water, forcing TVA to spill it, rather than use it to generate electricity.
   TVA is spilling at Appalachia Dam to gain flood storage space in the tributary reservoirs to minimize local flooding. Water also is being spilled at Ocoee 1,2 and 3 dams.
   Levels of all reservoirs may be lower or higher than normal during the upcoming July 4th weekend as TVA operates the river system to reduce the risk of flooding.
   In May, an average of 5 to 8 inches of rain fell between Knoxville and Chattanooga, with some areas near Watts Bar receiving more than 11 inches, prompting TVA to spill water to reduce the risk of flood damage.
   Historic flooding occurred in Chattanooga in April 1998 when flood waters reached 30.3 feet; in May 1984 (34.8 feet); May 1973 (29.1 feet), and March 1973 (36.9 feet).