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How The Cumberland River Reservoir System Works


Playing a vital role in the support of commerce, energy, recreation, and quality of life for all who call its banks home. The Cumberland River begins in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains at Harlan, Kentucky, then winds its way nearly 700 miles where it joins the Ohio River in Smithland, Kentucky. Along the way, the Cumberland River dips into Tennessee and is fed by countless tributaries where it serves as a drainage conduit for a watershed that covers nearly 18,000 square miles.

Cumberland River Basin Projects

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District’s Water Management Program maintains the Cumberland River Reservoir System with well established partnerships with the National Weather Service (NWS), the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (KYEM), the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  Coordination and communication among these partnering agencies are crucial to the overall water management goal of protecting life and property.

Water Management Education Series

Developed to raise public awareness, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District's online Water Management Education Series includes a video series that breaks down and discusses the operation of the Cumberland River Reservoir System from the perspective of a Corps of Engineers’ water manager, How the Cumberland River System Works overview brochure, and a school outreach program aimed at informing students grades 6-12 and their families about the Corps of Engineers’ flood damage risk reduction mission.

Flooding cannot be prevented under all scenarios, but with the flood risk management system in place, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and partnering local, state, and federal agencies reduce the impact and damage flooding causes.