Restricted Area Boundary Maps updated April 25, 2013
Restricted Access around Barkley Dam
Restricted Access around Center Hill Dam
Restricted Access around Cheatham Dam
Restricted Access around Cordell Dam
Restricted Access around Dale Hollow Dam
Restricted Access around J. Percy Priest Dam
Restricted Access around Laurel River Dam
Restricted Access around Martins Fork Dam
Restricted Access around Old Hickory Dam
Restricted Access around Wolf Creek Dam
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District held four public meetings in January and February 2013 to allow the public to respond to the pending implementation plans to restrict all forms of water access to hazardous waters adjacent to Corps locks and dams on the Cumberland River and its tributaries. Meetings were held Jan. 10 at Grand Rivers, Ky., Jan. 17 in Baxter, Tenn., Jan. 24 in Somerset, Ky., and Feb. 5 in Nashville, Tenn.
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Answer: Areas around dams are treated differently than waters outside of the restricted area for good reason. The immediate hazardous water areas above and below dams in the Nashville District are best described as industrial areas that pose a high level of risk for the public because of the Hydroelectric, spilling, sluicing and lock operations that are often present or begin with little or no notice. Waters outside of the restricted areas do not encompass areas containing turbulent waters caused by the operation of the project that creates significant risk of swamping or capsizing small boats that are underway, moored, or adrift. Also during instances of emergency boater distress, project employees are not always immediately available to respond. This places emergency responders and other boaters at risk of a life-threatening situation during rescue attempts. Lock, hydropower, spilling and sluicing operations are disrupted after and during any emergency response effort. These incidents have far reaching impacts; the most important of which are families that have to deal with the loss of a loved one.
Answer: It was a directive made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through ER 1130-2-520, dated 29 November 1996, “Restricted areas prohibiting public access shall be established for the hazardous waters immediately upstream and downstream of all Corps-owned locks and dams ...”
Answer: In 1996, the Nashville District implemented a policy for event-oriented restrictions. At that time the District determined that the policy adequately provided for public safety, fulfilled the regulatory requirement, while allowing some public access. However, recent public fatalities, injuries, and near misses/rescues that have occurred below dams demonstrated a need to reevaluate the policy. After a thorough review of it, the Nashville District determined that ER 1130-2-520 was not fully being adhered to. Therefore, the District made the decision to fully implement the policy to comply more effectively with ER 1130-2-520 and provide for the highest level of public safety, address physical security issues, and reduce the government’s liability.
Answer: Enforcement will not begin until after signs, buoys and physical barriers are installed beginning April 2013 timeframe. This will be a phased implementation.
Answer: Recent studies conclude there's a 50/50 chance of another catastrophic 9/11-style attack in the next 10 years, and an even greater chance if the world becomes less stable. A recent inspection by the DOD Inspector General and the Security Office revealed that fully implementing Corps policy was needed to address this security concern and ensure the security of our government infrastructure and ensure the safety of the public.
Answer: The Corps will maintain a presence that will discourage waterborne entry and activities within the restricted area boundaries. Corps park rangers will provide verbal warnings, as well as, written warnings, collateral forfeiture citations and mandatory Court appearance citations. In situations when a member of the public fails to comply with policy and a lawful order issued by a project employee acting pursuant to Title 36, CFR, Chapter III, Part 327, the Corps will coordinate with local and state law enforcement agencies.
Answer: Records show the number of fatalities in the tailwater below dams is available since 1970. There have been 14 over that time period.
Answer: There are no exceptions to the policy for experienced and cautious boaters or reckless and inexperienced boaters because the unsafe conditions that exist near dams can be extremely hazardous to every boater. Also during instances when boaters get into trouble, any boaters or emergency personnel that may respond to attempt a rescue place their lives at risk.
Answer: The Nashville District considers water safety a top priority at all locations and promotes water safety and maintains its facilities for safe public recreation. We do not anticipate making any immediate changes in how we operate and maintain swimming beaches or other water areas of the lakes.
Answer: 881, with 14 of them in the tailwaters. Since 2009, three fatalities, one serious injury and 10 near misses/rescues have occurred in hazardous waters immediately downstream of dams on the Cumberland River and its adjoining tributaries. Life jacket wear has been ineffective in these areas, since some of the victims who drowned wore a life jacket.
Answer: Waters within designated swimming beaches do not encompass areas containing high flow conditions and turbulent waters caused by hydroelectric power generation, lockages, spilling and sluicing. Swimming, wading, snorkeling or scuba diving at one's own risk is permitted, except at launching sites, designated mooring points and public docks, or other areas so designated by the District Commander.
Answer: While this is a relatively low number in comparison to the district’s total number of fatalities, any fatality is tragic. Current event-oriented restrictions are not protective enough of boaters and visitors around dams.
Answer: Restricting access is a regulatory requirement and the right thing to do to protect lives, safeguard operations, and to enhance security. The Nashville District made the decision to fully implement Corps policy of restricting waterborne public access in the best interest of boater and visitor safety.
Answer: Yes, all forms of water access within the restricted areas is prohibited including boating, swimming and wading.
Answer: Yes, bank fishing is still permitted and is encouraged in designated/permissible areas.
Answer: No, regulatory guidance requires us to establish restricted areas for the hazardous waters around dams. The Corps understands this change in policy may be unpopular for some visitors but public safety is paramount regarding all project operations.
Answer: The extent of each restricted area was based on hydraulic criteria and operational considerations in accordance with ER 1130-2-520. The restricted area boundaries were determined by an interdisciplinary team of professionals from Hydrology and Hydraulics Branch, Operations Division and the Safety Office.
Answer: The Corps will mark and implement the restricted areas with waterway signs, buoys and physical barriers.
Answer: Park rangers do not have the authority to make arrests. Park rangers are regulation enforcers with authority to issue verbal warnings, written warnings, collateral forfeiture citations and mandatory Court appearance citations. In situations when a member of the public fails to comply with policy and/or a lawful order issued by a project employee acting pursuant to Title 36, CFR, Chapter III, Part 327, the Corps will coordinate with local and state law enforcement agencies to gain compliance.
Answer: U.S. District Courts set Forfeiture of Collateral for offenses within its jurisdiction. These fines may vary between Districts.
ER 1130-2-520, Chapter 10
Title 36, CFR, Chapter 3, Part 327
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 13, 2012) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is finalizing plans to implement 24/7 restricted waterborne access to hazardous waters immediately upstream and downstream of all Corps-owned locks and dams, flood control dams and multi-purpose dams on the Cumberland River and its adjoining tributaries. This action moves the Nashville District into full compliance with Corps regulations.
Nashville District News Release 12-048
News Release 13-007: Nashville District responds to Senator Alexander’s proposed legislation
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is finalizing plans to implement restricted waterborne access to hazardous waters immediately upstream and downstream of all Corps-owned locks and dams, flood control dams and multi-purpose dams along the Cumberland River and its adjoining tributaries in accordance to ER 1130-2-520, Chapter 10.
Best described as industrial areas, the hazardous water areas above and below dams in the Nashville District pose a high level of risk for the public because of the Hydroelectric, spilling, sluicing and lock operations that are often present or begin with little or no notice. Turbulent boils and powerful currents are capable of swamping, capsizing, and even trapping boats and people in turbulent waters. Also during instances of emergency boater distress, project employees are not always immediately available to respond. This places emergency responders and other boaters at risk of a life-threatening situation during rescue attempts. Lock, hydropower, spilling and sluicing operations are disrupted after and during any emergency response effort. These incidents have far reaching impacts; the most important of which are families that have to deal with the loss of a loved one.
Since 2009, three fatalities, one serious injury and ten near misses/rescues have occurred in hazardous waters immediately downstream of dams on the Cumberland River and its adjoining tributaries. Life jacket wear has been ineffective in these areas, since all of the victims who drowned wore a life jacket.
In order to increase public safety and address physical security issues, the Nashville District reevaluated the District’s policy and made the decision to fully implement the existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ER 1130-2-520, Chapter 10. The Nashville District will inform the public prior to the installation of signs, buoys and physical barriers based on the respective restricted area boundaries at Barkley, Wolf Creek, Laurel River, Martins Fork dams in Kentucky, and Cheatham, J. Percy Priest, Old Hickory, Cordell Hull, Center Hill, and Dale Hollow dams in Tennessee.
The restricted areas will be the minimum area allowed per Corps regulations upstream and downstream of locks, dams, and power plant facilities. All forms of water access within the restricted areas will be prohibited including boating, swimming and wading. The Corps continues to promote bank fishing in all areas that were previously approved, including areas adjacent to some restricted areas.
Public information meetings are planned at four locations in January 2013. Detailed information for each meeting’s time and location is highlighted in the left pane of this web page.
· There are a number of factors that contribute to hazardous conditions for boaters that travel in close proximity to a dam. These include multiple sources of water that can be discharged from a dam, the release of large volumes of water that result in the development of strong currents, rapidly changing conditions, the presence of highly turbulent water, and the presence of cold water that could lead to hypothermia and shock. Any one of these factors can be problematic to boaters, and when experienced in combination can lead to catastrophic results.
· Conditions downstream of dams can be extremely hazardous to boaters due to large amounts of water that can be discharged through a dam. Because a significant increase in the flow of water can occur within a matter of only seconds, resulting turbulent waters and swift currents can capsize boats and render small boats uncontrollable.
· Turbine generation discharges directly below a dam can be extremely dangerous to boaters creating conditions that can capsize or overturn boats. When turbine generation begins, the release of water into the river below the dam can create turbulence and possible undertows. Boils or upwellings caused by the release of water through the turbine can flip boats. Certain hydropower operations can lead to the sudden release of a large volume of air into the river downstream resulting in reduced buoyancy for boats in these areas.
· Spillway releases from a dam can create undertows, eddies and whirlpools resulting in very dangerous conditions for boaters. Boats can be drawn into the spillway release and flooded. While large spillway releases present obvious dangers, even a small release can be deadly. The power of water should never be underestimated.
· Navigation locks may fill or empty at irregular intervals and the volumes of water involved are considerable. Lock discharge locations may not be easily discerned and sudden discharges from lock chamber emptying can create turbulent boils and powerful currents capable of swamping a small boat. In general, lock chambers should be given a wide berth in order to avoid these dangers.
· Sluice releases from dams cause extremely turbulent waters below dams. Violent, irregular wave actions are common with sluice releases and can swamp or overturn boats.
· On the upstream side of dams, there is a strong undertow created by the flow of water through the gated section of the dam. Boats approaching too closely from the upstream side are in danger of being lodged against the dam or capsized by the undertow.