NR 12-014: Nashville District cautions boaters in low-water conditions

Published May 23, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 23, 2012) – With Memorial Day weekend fast approaching and an anticipated increase in traffic on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District lakes, boaters are urged to be cautious in low-water conditions at Lake Barkley, Center Hill and J. Percy Priest Lakes.


Lake Barkley’s current level is at 357.4 feet, which is 1.6 feet below normal for this time of year.  Center Hill Lake’s current level is at 629.3 feet, which is 3.7 feet below normal.  J. Percy Priest Lake’s current level is 486.7 feet, which is 3.8 feet below normal.


Boaters at these lakes should use caution and be on the lookout for obstructions that may be exposed or just beneath the water. Here are some additional safety tips that may be helpful to the public in low-and-normal water conditions.




  • Stay within the marked navigational channels
  • Obey all posted signs, markers and navigational aids for your safety. Note that navigation buoys sometime drift off station. A navigation chart should be used to identify buoy locations.
  • Exercise caution at all times. Be on the lookout for shoals, stumps, or other navigational hazards that may now be exposed or lying just beneath the surface
  • Navigation maps are available for sale at local outdoor stores and department stores
  • Utilize depth finders if available
  • Wearing a life jacket can save your life
  • Boat sober - alcohol and water can be a deadly combination
  • Use caution around dams
  • Know before you go - be aware of the weather and the low-water conditions



  • Don’t swim in unfamiliar areas
  • Never dive from the shoreline, bank or structures
  • Be aware of underwater hazards such as stumps, rocks or other objects
  • Never swim alone
  • Don't exceed your swimming abilities - it's further than you think
  • Watch your children closely
  • Lake swimming is different than being in a pool with the currents, varying water depths, and murky water. Be prepared for these conditions
  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket
  • Don’t depend on floating or air-filled toys


Water Skiers and Tubers


  • Check the area for underwater hazards prior to activity
  • Stay within navigational channels
  • Have a responsible spotter
  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket


Lake levels at the Nashville District’s seven other lakes are generally at or close to seasonal levels. 

While some lake levels are lower than normal, there is still plenty of water for recreationists to enjoy.


On the main stem Cumberland River, large vessels may have to remain in the center of the navigational channel. Recreational boaters are encouraged to yield to larger vessels that may have a reduced area to maneuver.


For up-to-date information on lake levels and projections, boat ramp conditions, news releases, and related links, please follow us at the following Facebook pages:


Nashville District:

Lake Barkley:

Cheatham Lake:

Old Hickory Lake:

J. Percy Priest Lake:

Cordell Hull Lake:

Center Hill Lake:

Dale Hollow Lake:

Lake Cumberland:

Laurel River Lake:

Martins Fork Lake:
Bill Peoples
Lee Roberts

Release no. 12-014