After record-setting rainfall, authorities say it will take several weeks to return Tennessee’s lakes and rivers to their normal levels.
The Cumberland River, for example, has dipped about 1 foot after cresting on Saturday. And that’s where it will likely remain, in what’s known as an “elevated” — but not “flood” — stage.
The Army Corps of Engineers waited until after local runoff could flow into the river before beginning to steadily release pent-up water from its reservoirs, said Anthony Rodino, chief of the Nashville District’s water management section.
“Those releases are going to be very constant, and they’re going to be very stable for, not just days, but weeks at this point,” he said. “Because water has been stored for so long at these reservoirs, it’s going to take a long time to empty them back towards more seasonable levels.”
He said reservoirs are 75 to 90 percent full, including a record-setting level at the Wolf Creek Dam in Kentucky. The release of water that’s now underway there is also unprecedented. The Kendall Campground below the dam has been closed.
The Corps reports that its dams held back enough rainfall to keep the Cumberland River about 16 feet lower than it could have been without management.
“The Corps projects have all been working as intended,” Rodino said. “At this point, everything is going according to plan.”
The Corps said the Cumberland crested in a minor flood stage at 40.93 feet in Nashville and at 50.4 feet in Clarksville, just above moderate flood stage.