TVA is working to prevent flooding along the Tennessee River as heavy rainfall over the past week has caused water levels to rise.
The increased water flow has prompted officials to halt barge traffic through Chattanooga. To keep up with high water levels, TVA is pumping more than 800,000 gallons of water per second through the Chickamauga Dam.
On Monday, crews opened the spillway gates to allow even more water to pass through after another day of rain.
“TVA manages the water on a daily and hourly basis to control flow through the system,” said Scott Fiedler, TVA spokesperson.
Controlling water flow through the Tennessee River Valley is an around-the-clock job, especially when wet weather hits.
“If the dam system with TVA was not in place, there would be flooding across the Tennessee River Valley, from Bristol all the way to the Ohio River in Kentucky,” Fiedler said.
Currently, the river is more than five feet above its normal level. Near the dam, strong currents are present and boat ramps are blocked off. Further downstream, part of Ross’s Landing is under water.
TVA monitors water levels across the state to determine how much the river can handle.
“If that was not in place, Chattanooga might flood upwards of 30 feet,” said Fiedler.
The city’s last major rain event brought up to 10 inches of rain in some areas. During that time, TVA pumped more than 600,000 gallons of water through the dam per second. That’s just 3/4 of what the dam is pushing through now.
TVA officials warn people not to take boats near the dam, and to avoid waters when they’re as high and choppy as they are currently.