Drought continues across East Tennessee

Knoxville (WVLT) -- Nearly half an inch of rain expected Wednesday may sound like a lot, but TVA says we're still very much in a drought.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford has more on what we can expect this Spring and Summer in terms of rain.

While it seems like we've had a lot of rain lately, the Tennessee valley levels are still below normal.

Is for this Summer, TVA says every week that we don't get an inch of rain, we fall farther behind into the drought.

Maryville Water Quality Control Director Jeff Rose says, "Our demand goes up probably about 50% in the summertime due to irrigation lawn irrigation mostly."

That's why Maryville residents were placed on a mandatory water conservation last summer...

Rose says, "Last summer we had historic low flows in the river."

Fortunately the Little River levels are much higher right now compared to this time last year...

Rose says, "We've had about 12-13 inches of rainfall. Last year at this same time we had between five and six inches of rainfall in these last four months."

But despite the increase in rainfall.

TVA's Water Supply Programming Manager Mike Eiffe says, "The drought is definitely not over and it's interesting. People's perspective is that since we've had a little bit of rain here lately, we're very fortunate and thankful for that, but we're still well below normal for the year."

Eiffe says while we're slowly making progress, it's still not enough rain to bring us out of the drought, "Normal rainfall for a significant period of time, months, if not years would do it. Above normal rainfall might get us out of the drought in a couple of months."

TVA says an ease in drought conditions over the next three months is expected for the Tennessee Valley.

Eiffe says, "Our target is to have our reservoirs at their summer level by June first. We're literally in a very conservative operative mode where we're trying to hang on to every drop of water that we get."

Because there's really no telling what mother nature might do.

Rose says, "We're expecting the best, but planning for the worst."

The city of Maryville is currently working on a system to pump water from Alcoa and South Blount Utilities if the drought gets as bad or worse than last Summer's.

They're hoping to have it in place by the end of June.

Before you know it, we'll be starting up the sprinklers.


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