TVA officials visited Lynchburg last week to talk about current low water levels at Tims Ford Reservoir and to warn that Tims Ford may not reach targeted summer recreation levels by June 1. According to TVA’s Charles Bach and Thomas Barnett, an early and dry spring in Moore and Franklin counties is leading to lower that normal levels at Tim Ford.
“Everything bloomed early. That means the ground acts like a sponge – soaking up all the run off. When water doesn’t run off into the reservoir, the levels don’t rise,” says Bach.
Current pool levels are at 882.7 feet above sea level. Barnett says target level for Tim Ford is 888 feet above sea level.
“We’re currently five feet below where we want to be,” says Barnett.
According to TVA, Moore County would need to receive around two inches of run off (or six to 10 inches of actual rain) in order to reach the target water level. After experiencing a relatively wet winter, local rainfall levels have drastically fallen. Gauges at Tims Ford recorded just 3.53 inches in March, less than an inch in April and 1.77 inches in May.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the entire U.S. from “January to April was the warmest such period on record,” and precipitation was much below normal. The U.S. Drought Monitor also states that the areas around Shelbyville, Winchester and Tullahoma “are having their driest period ever on record.” Normandy Lake is experiencing many of the same issues.
According to Bach and Barnett, TVA is in conservation mode at Tims Ford. They’re currently releasing just enough water to protect aquatic habit in the Elk River and its tributaries. These levels are set by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDCEC). TVA is also not generating hydro-electricity at Tims Ford until the lake level rises.
Boaters are reminded to be aware of the additional danger low lake levels can create.
“Due to these lower water levels, we want to remind boaters to be cautious and watch for submerged logs, sandbars and shoals,” stated a TVA press release.
Officials remind boaters to use a depth finder at all times and especially encourage visitors who aren’t familiar with the lake to use caution.
TVA says National Weather Service officials predict normal rainfall over the next three months. “Hopefully, this is just a short-term problem,” they say.