NR 12-008: Nashville District relaxes Lake Cumberland water release guidelines

Published May 3, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 3, 2012) – The Nashville District has been approved to relax the guidelines for releasing water from Lake Cumberland.  The Interim Risk Reduction Measure currently in place requires the district to hold the lake level as close to elevation 680 feet as rainfall and ability to release water allows.  However, the lake-level range for managing releases for the “most efficient use of water” is being relaxed from the previous elevation range of 680-to-683 feet to new elevation range of 680-to-685 feet. 

Most efficient use means the Corps has latitude on timing and rate of release when the lake level is above 680 but at or below 685.  The district will operate within this band with discretion.  Elevation 685 replaces the previous trigger level of 683 so this represents an additional two feet of storage available for water management.

Release of water from Wolf Creek Dam is coordinated with those from Dale Hollow, Center Hill, and J. Percy Priest dams to meet water level, temperature, and dissolved oxygen requirements along the Cumberland River.  This benefits water supply, operation of coal fired power plants, commercial navigation, hydropower, water quality, fish and aquatic life, and recreation.  Public health and safety concerns related to water treatability issues and the continued operation of the power plants are emphasized in managing releases. 

As needs fluctuate throughout the year based on rainfall and temperatures, the Corps plans to vary the release on this last five feet of storage at Wolf Creek Dam to meet demands.

It is important to differentiate this revised operating guideline from the IRRM level.  This revision does not change the IRRM elevation of 680, which is still the target level.  This change only affects when and how fast the Corps gets the lake level to elevation 680 feet once the pool reaches 685 feet.

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Bill Peoples
Lee Roberts

Release no. 12-008