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Tennessee River hits record low level

Tennessee River hits record low level

Posted: Friday, June 8, 2012 3:00 pm

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Record low water levels on the Tennessee River have created a management challenge for the operators of the hydroelectric plant at the Kentucky Dam.
Plant manager Bill Stallion told The Paducah Sun (http://bit.ly/L9StH4) that maintaining levels on the river as well as Kentucky Lake is a balancing act of keeping the minimum levels necessary for the dam while making marinas, boaters and fishermen happy.
Tennessee Valley Author-ity spokesman Scott Brooks said low river levels can pose a hazard to fishermen, who face dangers when turbines switch on while the water level is low. The TVA manages the waterway and draws about 10 percent of its power supply from the dam.
Flashing lights and a siren warn boaters when a turbine switches on, but the effects are more pronounced in a low river, Stallion said.
The Tennessee River sat around 301 feet above sea level below Kentucky Dam on Tuesday. Brooks said the current water level above the dam’s gates is a bit more than 357 feet, while the TVA wants it to be around 359 feet. In May 2011, water almost topped the dam’s gates that sit 375 feet above sea level above the dam.
“We are a bit low,” Brooks said.
“It’s a challenge because we do have minimum flow requirements,” said Susan Jacks, a senior management adviser for river scheduling for the Tennessee Valley Authority. “We are doing our best to not draw from another pool level and to use water from the rest of the system.”
Every time any of the dam’s 24 spillway gates belch water from Kentucky Lake to the river, 13 nearby businesses are alerted and informed of changes to water levels, Stallion said. Opening the gates, which can move millions of gallons of water per second, affects a 42,000-square-foot area of the Tennessee Valley watershed.
Information from: The Paducah Sun, http://www.paducahsun.com Published in The Messenger 6.8.12

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