TVA dams help alleviate Mississippi flooding

By: Angela Starke Email
By: Angela Starke Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Folks in Memphis are bracing for more flooding tonight as the Misssissippi River is expected to crest at record level.

During the last few days, officials at the Tennessee Valley Authority have been helping to monitor the situation at its River Forecast Center.

The center is in flood control mode, says senior manager David Bowling.

"We've got the Ohio River, Cumberland River, Tennessee River and Mississippi River all converging," Bowling said. "Any of our discharges out of the Tennessee River can affect flood levels on the Ohio and Mississippi so we've been coordinating on real time with the Army Corps of how much water we have coming out of our Kentucky dam."

That could affect the western part of the state where the Mississippi could crest tonight at 48 feet, less than a foot off the record. Memphis is under a flood warning and hasn't seen water like this since 1937.

The center uses maps, wall-sized electronic screens and the latest technology.

Bowling says the authority has been monitoring the situation for several days now and managing a TVA dam in Kentucky - the last dam in its system and closest to the Mississippi.

"At the Kentucky reservoir, it's very different. We reached record elevations on the Kentucky reservoir and now holding back off Ohio and Mississippi rivers."

The center has to look at rainfall, runoff, weather conditions and water needs of different dams to ensure they get the right water to the right place. When it comes to record flooding like that in Memphis, they have to wait for the river to crest.

"So if you get the crest in the river as everything goes up, we turn off. Then as things start to come back down, we turn on in order to recover our storage capacity," Bowling said.

There's little TVA can do now to ease the situation along the Mississippi, bowling said, and they - like everyone else - are hoping for the best.
TVA says right not summer levels along the Tennessee River are at target levels.

The authority is trying to maintain those levels for the recreation season and have enough water to meet minimum flows throughout the summer.


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