Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dry, dry, dry!

Our local lake, Hiwassee Reservoir, is lower than we've ever seen it in 20-some years of visiting and three years of living here. Lake levels are below the normal winter levels, which are quite low. Marinas and houseboats that depend on being able to use the lake in the summer are sitting on the lakebed. Near the dam, land that's never been seen before is exposed. There are beaches where 20 feet of water should be:

TVA, which runs the lake and river systems around here, needs the water to keep the Tennessee River at navigable levels. The water's needed for electricity generation too, and it's been HOT in the Tennessee Valley this summer, so hot a nuclear generating plant at Brown's Ferry had to be shut down because the water was too warm to cool the fuel.

It's really depressing, though, to visit the lower lakes along the river and see that the water levels there are as high as ever. Other lakes around here, like Parksville, Santeetlah, and Apalachia, also maintain high levels. There's plenty of water for paddlers on the Ocoee and the lower Hiwassee.

But how will our lake even recover from this? How much rain will it take to fill it? Things are just as bad on Fontana Lake, and Nottely lake has lost so much water that parts of it aren't navigable. Blue Ridge and Chatuge must be suffering too. Is this fair? There's still lots of water running through Hiwassee Dam.

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