News: Dale Hollow Lake balances holding, spilling water
Story by Leon Roberts
CELINA, Tenn. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District began spilling water at Dale Hollow Dam on Obey River in Celina, Tenn., May 7, to preserve its capacity to store water.
Nashville District is performing a balancing act when it comes to storing and releasing water at all of its projects to manage water flows and alleviate ongoing flooding on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.
Before spilling, Dale Hollow Lake was approximately a foot from its record level, and recreation areas, campgrounds and boat ramps are affected by the high water.
Chuck Ervin, a dam mechanic who opened the spillway, said the goal is to balance the amount being released downstream on Obey River while maintaining room in the reservoir.
“We want to drop the headwater elevation at a slow rate,” Ervin said.
Corps officials at Dale Hollow want the public to understand when visiting that it is important to be cautious and safe under the current high-water conditions on the lake.
“We’d just like folks to know that the lake is usable in a variety of places. We just encourage customers to call ahead of time before they make the trip to inquire to see if the ramp is open or if the marina services are limited,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Ranger Sondra Carmen. “And when you are out boating or using the lake, please use caution around the shoreline.”
Carmen noted that there is debris floating in the lake and so people recreating have to be extra careful. She said it’s also very important to stay distant from the tail water below the dam because it is very dangerous for anyone to get pulled into the deadly currents.
Operators at http://www.recreation.gov who take reservations for the recreation areas and campgrounds are aware of the situation at Dale Hollow Lake and are not taking reservations for campsites under water or unusable. They are also able to assist with anyone who made reservations prior to the flooding.
Park Attendant Dannie Tinch at Lillydale Campground reports that campsites located out of the water are primed and ready for visitors.
“We’ve had some flooding, but the places that are above water are in great shape, freshly mowed, and we believe that we can make people very happy,” Tinch said.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Park Ranger Brock Jones said everyone at the lake has been affected by the high water, but they are also aware of the greater purpose that storing water represents to the people in flood zones in Kentucky and western Tennessee.
“We did what we needed to do. Dale Hollow held a lot of water back off of them,” Jones said. “So it maintained its flood control purpose, which I guess is the most important thing the dam was built for.”