NR 15-023: Elevated lake levels expected at Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake

Published July 2, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 2, 2015) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District expects elevated lake levels over the Independence Day weekend at Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake.  This anticipated rise in lake levels is the result of heavy rainfall in the forecast and the ongoing flooding situation on the lower Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

Barkley and Kentucky reservoirs provide critical storage for reducing flood crests on the lower Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.  The Ohio River at Cairo, Ill., is currently 5.7 feet above flood stage and the latest information indicates that it may rise another two-plus feet in the coming days.

“We want people who boat and recreate at these lakes to be aware that the water levels may be higher than usual this holiday weekend, and that they need to be aware of both floating and underwater hazards” said Bob Sneed, Nashville District Water Management Section chief.

Significant rain is in the forecast for the Cumberland River Basin every day through Sunday.  This additional rainfall, coupled with the reduced releases from Barkley and Kentucky reservoirs due to downstream flooding concerns will result in a rise in lake levels on Kentucky and Barkley through this week and into next week.

The Corps operates Barkley Dam and Lake Barkley while the Tennessee Valley Authority operates Kentucky Dam and Kentucky Lake.

Typical elevations at Barkley and Kentucky this time of year are near elevation 359.0 (generally +/- one foot).  At 6 a.m. July 2, Barkley was at 359.55 above mean sea level and Kentucky was at 359.46.  The potential exists for the lakes to rise several more feet.  Boaters and marinas are urged to use caution during the busy 4th of July holiday weekend as rising lake elevations could lead to hazardous conditions.

(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at, on Facebook at or, and on Twitter at
Bill Peoples
Lee Roberts

Release no. 15-023